On Wednesday evening, I was walking home with Jackson from a weekly appointment we have, feeling super glum. It was a dreary day and not just because of the election results, and, since the time change over the weekend, it was much darker on our walk home than normal. Jackson asked if it was so dark because Trump won. He asked if Trump was going to find him and yell bad words at him. I explained that my number one job is to keep him safe and I will do that job very well and so will his dad and all the other grown-ups in his life who love him and care for him and that his job to keep being the best Jackson he can be. Still, my heart ached — still aches — for all the things I can’t control and the ways I won’t be able to keep him and his sister safe.
As we were walking along, this man — an older gentleman in a beat-up looking army fatigue vest — who had been walking ahead of us–stopped, turned around, waited for us to catch up to him, and then walked along with us. I had to quickly assess the situation, as you do when you live in the city.
“That’s a nice sweater you’re wearing,” he said to me.
“And you have a nice son who is lucky to have a good mom. You have a good mom, I can tell!” he said to Jackson.
“What do you think about the election?” he asked me.
“Well, I’m depressed about it. I’m really depressed.”
And then he told me not to be depressed. He said: “Look at me, I’m 65 next year — do I look it?” (He did not). “And I served in Vietnam for four years. And I’m a black man in America. Trust me, I’ve experienced a lot to be depressed about, but I don’t let any of it get me down and you shouldn’t either. It’s why I look so young. I focus on the good. I focus on being good and being kind. And that’s what you have to do. Look at your wonderful son, and I bet you have a great husband, too,” he said.
“And I have a daughter, too” I replied.
“See?” He said. “You have a lot to be grateful for. Focus on that and move forward. The world doesn’t have time for you to be depressed.”
I’m going to remember his words and move forward and be grateful for what I have and focus on the good and being good and being kind and channeling my anger into productivity, and hope that if enough of us do the same, we can still be the change we want and need in this world. The world doesn’t have time for anything less.