It’s Wednesday night, Donald Trump has been President of the Free World for six days now. My heart is sad even after a day of organizing, and planning with several different strong, inspirational women. I’m listening to my go-to in times of strife and uncertainty, Janis Joplin. As she wails her deep gut wrenching cries, she screams the affirmation “I’m gonna try just a little bit harder.” I realize that this affirmation Janis poured onto the stage in front of thousands of psychedelic festival goers in 1969 Woodstock, is exactly what I (we) need to hear right now in 2017. I love her music because it is built upon affirmations, reassuring herself that she is lovable even after people were so cruel to her for a majority of her short life. Her words represent a bleeding nation experiencing struggle, hate and uncertainty, and what it means to really wear your heart on your sleeve.
Janis was introduced to me by my father, a baby boomer who worked for everything he has. He put himself through school without the help of my grandparents, bought a home, cars and worked with my mom to give everything in their power to my sister and I including a college education. I respect him more probably than anyone on this planet and crave his approval in all my professional endeavors, as if to say, “look, what you gave me paid off.” He is one of the last of this kind, a dying breed, the hard working middle class who stays in their traditional ways, reads the newspaper, stays off social media and has hope that a glimmer of “The American Dream” still exists.
One word that has stuck with me from childhood into my journey to adulthood is “quit.” My parents are both part of that generation that believed with hard enough work, you could really reach your dreams. I remember in 10th grade after I had been playing the Flute for about five years, I became dispassionate about practicing monotonous 16th note scales for hours on end and trying to get my trilling just right. I remember playing at a recital and I choked. In reality, I probably did ok, but it wasn’t up to the standard I had held myself to in years past. I remember looking at my family, seeing their disappointed faces and feeling ashamed that I hadn’t just practiced like I had done so diligently in the past. Later when we were home and I was bitching about playing, my mom said “what are you gonna do? Just quit?!” The word lingered in the air for a couple seconds and sounded like it was the worst possible crime I could commit. I was silent for the first time as a teenager.
It’s been four days since the Women’s March happened, which I was lucky enough to have a role in planning. It served for many as a cathartic release of emotion. A place where people from different races, genders, and walks of life could gather and visually see that our numbers are great as a untied people, and our voices are LOUD. Louder than accusations of lies, and hate and discrimination. Although the march is receiving mixed reviews, it was effective for me and my healing process, and I’m sorry if that sounds selfish, but I need to be whole in order to help make a difference and fight the good fight.
Tonight, I along with so many others am plagued by the heartache of what our nation is to face in the next hundred days and the ominous next four years. I feel sadness for my immigrant friends and family and am disgusted that they would ever have to live in a place where they are not granted the same freedom and rights as someone who was born here. I am bleeding with the water protectors who are being exposed to atrocities I can’t even began to imagine and are being stripped of land that has been theirs for so many generations past. I am hearing the echoes of the cries of my African American brothers and sisters begging for “the man” to value lives of inner city males just as they would white. While I let this grief set in tonight, because sometimes it’s good to let pain seep into the depths of your soul, it is not healthy to wallow in it.
I am aware of my privilege and all I’ve been given and believe the universe dealt me this specific set of cards to have the ability to help others. For what is life, if you are just living it for yourself and own self gain? This affirmation is what has been keeping me going for the past couple months just like Janis does with her words. Tonight, I will get a good nights sleep and start a new, as we are all needed in this fight.