I went to bed in disbelief and woke up in tears, my fight or flight response on high alert. At about 4 p.m. yesterday before any election returns were in, it occurred to me that I hadn’t even considered the possibility that Donald Trump could be our next president. Perhaps that is because I live in the progressive “Portland bubble.” Perhaps that is because all of the polls and pundits predicted a Clinton victory. Perhaps that is because I just couldn’t fathom this country would elect a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic megalomaniac over a calm, experienced, intelligent and highly qualified, albeit flawed, woman.
As I sat with my anger, frustration and utter sadness this morning, I recognized that what I am experiencing is grief. And not because my preferred candidate lost the election, but because America lost. By electing Donald Trump, we have validated sexually demeaning language and predatory actions towards women. We have sanctioned barricading ourselves from the rest of the world. We have endorsed bullying as a means to get what you want. We have countenanced blatant racism and anti-semitism.
Seeking light in the darkness, I took to the trail this morning. I needed to surround myself with beauty, to immerse myself in calm. I hiked six and a half miles through Forest Park, in awe of the forest as it prepares itself for winter. The fall forest forces you to pay attention. Its allure rests in the sound of a raven’s wings, the stark contrast of bright green moss on a brown trunk, pearly white snowberries clinging to a leafless twig.
My grief weighs heavy on me this evening, and I still feel caught between fight and flight. But for a brief moment today, in the forest, I was free.
Tonight I will gather with friends and family, to grieve together, to find strength in our bonds, to hug them tight and re-affirm our commitment to support each other in the dark days ahead.