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Shut-ting Dow-wn

Our country is on high alert. Everyone is nail biting and processing and perseverating on what's happening next. The waiting is unbearable. I have put myself on pause in order to function. I pretend that I am living on a very small planet with just a few people. I walk my dog hoping no one will stop and talk to me about the elections. The news is too much. What do I believe? Who do I trust? Nothing is simple. I am a big picture person, someone who doesn't focus on the little details. I've never been one to analyze the nuances or subtleties. My family laughs at me because I basically feel my way through life. I wait until I feel clear and then I act. 


It's not that I don't care about facts. I do. But these days, in order to get to the truth, I have to find my way through so many opinions and facts (real and misleading), numbers, policies, precedents. It feels like I'm a first grader trying to work my through a comprehensive legal brief on social security tax fraud. It's too much for me and so I turn off. I depend on other trusted people-- my partner Nancy, my daughter Lucia, and my very political friend Genessa, to glean through the garbage mountain of bullshit and tell me what I need to know.


Once, when Lucia was in fourth grade at a brand new school, her teacher sent her and another boy Peter from their portable to the main school building to deliver a note to a fellow teacher.  Lucia, having only been into the main building a handful of times, assumed that her classmate would lead the way and do the job. But when the got to the classroom Peter told Lucia to go in and deliver the note. Lucia, scared and unfamiliar with the scene, asked Peter repeatedly to do it. He continued to refuse. On Lucia's final request Peter looked directly at Lucia, closed his eyes and slumped his body against the wall and, in a slow robotic voice spoke the words, "Shut-ting do-own....." and became completely unresponsive. Lucia had no choice but to deliver the note herself.


When Lucia shared that story at dinner that evening we all laughed at the situation. It was such a creative and effective way for Peter to get out of something he didn't want to do. And by shutting down himself, Lucia had no choice but to take the lead. Though his actions left Lucia in a hard spot, Peter was clearly coping in his own way. He must have sensed that Lucia would be okay doing that task. And she was. Lucia and Peter went on to become friends and have weaved in and out of friendship for several years now. 

I used to feel bad for not being up to date on all the current events, consumed by the news like my parents. But I realize now that it's not only that I don't want to, it's that part of me can't. It's not the way my brain works and I don't want to force it in that direction. So now, like Peter, I am shutting down. As the waiting continues I am a broken down robot, dead battery, short circuited, mainframe blown. I am shut down. Every day I turn on for a few minutes and ask Genessa what I need to know. Then I go back inside and wait again. I'll turn on again when the waiting is over. 

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