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.
tarheelblue87 November 11, 2016, 4:12 pm
Thank you so much for sharing this Wendy. I don’t comment much but I truly love your site and what it stands for.
I’m black and the daughter of a Vietnam era veteran. My dad wasn’t deployed but he served as a drill sergeant. He wasn’t able to go to college but he made a great life for himself. The man you met sounds like my dad. He has the most optimistic spirit of anyone I know. A month ago he suffered from a stroke and ever since he’s been fighting back. We haven’t talked since the election but I am sure when we do talk he’ll be the same light as always. And to me that’s the lesson of all of this- focus on the light and the dark won’t hold you back.
Trump may have brought darkness forward but we have more light than he and his followers think.
Amanda November 11, 2016, 4:43 pm
I did that yesterday. Started looking at all the people who are upset. There’s still hope out there. It’s dark and scary right now, but there are so many of us who are ready to use our voices. We just have to be a little louder now.
I was bullied as a kid – to the point of being suicidal. I will not tolerate bullies now and I sure as hell am not stopping because the president will be one.
Kate November 12, 2016, 8:53 am
Kate November 12, 2016, 8:54 am
Kate November 12, 2016, 9:05 am
anonymousse November 11, 2016, 6:02 pm
Wendy, that was exactly what I needed to hear. What a nice man!
bittergaymark November 11, 2016, 11:38 pm
Yeah, I am over it. What’s done is done. If Americans wanna wreck their stupid country — eh, so be it, I guess. It’s frustrating. And it’s a real shame as America truly could easily be so great… But no. Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! Sigh… And yet — at the end of the day, it’s out of my hands… There is nothing I can do about it. Oh, well…
Samba November 12, 2016, 3:59 pm
Really touching to hear this – it just reminds me that the most wonderful unexpected and seemingly random things can happen – like helpful words from a stranger who just happened to be there – when you need them to.
redhead November 12, 2016, 5:37 pm
Totally with you Wendy – in fact, yesterday I went to my first meeting of an interfaith group to help with the planning of a peace service for New Years Day. Good will prevail if we stand up and do our part. I’m standing up, and I know many other people who are too, including you. Thank you for your willingness to share!
Skyblossom November 13, 2016, 10:05 am
My husband and I have signed up to donate to Planned Parenthood every month. It is an automatic payment from our bank account to them. We can all work to do something for what we believe in.
We have to wait to see how this all plays out. It was a similar situation in California when bigotry was used by Pete Wilson to win the governors election but in the end as that same bigotry played out more minorities, especially Hispanics, got their citizenship and registered to vote and California went from a red state to a blue state.
Kate November 13, 2016, 10:58 am
David November 13, 2016, 5:45 pm
Yup. That happened.
MaterialsGirl November 14, 2016, 10:52 am
Thank you for sharing this Wendy. I was in Canada during the elections and the aftermath. My husband sent me videos of the protests down our street in Chicago, and I was generally just feeling very upset about the whole deal and what it means for us as Americans and what the split says about the country. I started to cheer up a little bit on Saturday when we had our Alumnae Reunion for the our sorority. Sitting there surrounded by so many women of diverse backgrounds, religions and ethnicity, it was a a powerful testament to the change we can promote within our own lives. I’m proud to be American (was at a Blackhawks game Sunday night where the National Anthem is a crazy wonderful loud event) and am ready to work toward a better future for all of its people. My Canadian colleagues said they noticed how much patriotism and respect Americans have, because even at a bar, everyone quiets down and removes hats when the anthem is broadcast. Rather than stay in my bubble of disbelief, I have to work to promote the change I want to see.
Andrea G November 14, 2016, 2:29 pm
What lovely words! Thanks for sharing.
Sabrina November 14, 2016, 9:10 pm
Very encouraging, thanks for sharing! I won’t go into how awful I’ve been feeling (there’s enough ranting on social media) and I’m just trying to move on with my life. “The world doesn’t have time for you to be depressed” – I will definitely use this phrase.
Kate November 14, 2016, 9:28 pm
Gah, I’m in Manhattan for a drug gala at the Rainbow Room and all these streets were blocked off trying to get there. Trump Tower is crawling with police and their vehicles.
yeah...but November 15, 2016, 11:24 am
Here’s a great read on the value of diversity in media!
“What ‘Supergirl’ Gets Right About Heroes and the 2016 Election – Television matters, because the stories we choose to tell matter.”