I slept badly all last week, mainly because I felt called to wake around 2 or 3 am PST in order to “help” Garbiñe Muguruza, my most beloved female tennis player, win the French Open. I don’t even have a TV, never mind the Tennis Channel, so I did this by watching the scores of Rounds 1, 2, and 3 on my phone.
Garbiñe (who last year beat Serena Williams to win the tournament) went out Saturday in the 4th Round. The victor was shown in the pumped-fist, teeth-bared, king-of-the-jungle pose that has become de rigueur for sports “heroes” in our culture of aggression and violence.
Somehow the whole event depressed me way more than is rational.
Then yesterday, on the elliptical at the gym, I burst into tears: the terror in London, our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, the fact that North Korea may lob a nuclear weapon over to San Francisco or LA any minute, a recent gushing NYT piece about a guy whose last act on earth was to commit suicide–this is now called “choreographed death” and is of course thoroughly endorsed and praised by mainstream culture.
It feels as if the whole world were sickening and dying. Still, nothing is solved or helped, I need to remind myself, by name-calling, snarkiness, or making the other into “the enemy.”
Real activism and real resistance take place in the innermost chambers of the heart. That is where the resolve forms as to how to order our daily lives, actions, thoughts. That is where I, for one, ask for mercy for my own failings, sorrow with the suffering at the core of the world, hunger for righteousness, truth, and beauty: natural, artistic, moral.
That is where I know that if I were told I would die next week I would go on doing exactly what I do already. Pray, write, work in the garden, practice the piano, sit down face to face, one human being to another, with family, friends, fellow recovering alcoholics, strangers passing through. Listen. Participate. Give of my substance. Respond.
This morning’s NYT carried an article about a ballet dancer, Gray Davis, 31, who jumped down onto the subway tracks over the weekend to rescue a homeless man who’d been pushed off the platform. He was leaving the theater with his mother and his wife, also a dancer, after seeing her perform. “At first I waited for somebody else to jump down there. People were screaming to get help. But nobody jumped down. So I jumped down.”
31 years old. Works for American Ballet Theater. Probably a bit more concerned about preserving his body than most.
“The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” That made me weep, too.