Joe Ford, of Louisville, Ky., responds to my recent posts, offering paths to hope and joy during this holiday season. If you would like to submit a post to Clearing the Fog, please contact us here.
My family occasionally hosts an activist who lives in Nicaragua. I think of her now, and her adopted country, and her regional neighbors in El Salvador. They have lived through what we imagined in horror would be Trump unleashed: a government that does not serve its people, but rather suppresses and murders them. How is it she and her circle survive? How is it they remain activists, remain the opposition, after decades of repression? They do not give up hope. I do not know how. But perhaps that is the mantle that we need to take on.
It appears that we in the U.S. have faced down that threat…for now, although there is a formidable group of elected officials who still support those authoritarian impulses. But where is our collective hope? Our shared, spontaneous joy? The bonfires and front-yard dances that erupted in my neighborhood the day the election was called?
Perhaps that jubilation has been muted as we continue to confront a second, physical menace. Each day COVID-19 steals thousands of Americans from their families, each one a cruel separation amid devastating national loss. Nonetheless there is hope even there, borne of the vaccines, if we can remain cautious and disciplined for another half a year or so.
At my workplace, a few of us were asked to gather some best practices for dealing with the stress of being an employee, parent, nurse, cook, spouse, and caretaker for elderly parents all at the same time, all from our home office at the kitchen table—while also striving to remain stable, confident and supportive to all (when we really have no idea what is going to happen, when the pandemic will end, when our kids can go back to school, when we can go back to work—or if we will have work). The most common advice:
My plea to you is to not lose joy, to continue to find pleasure where we found it before. Things may seem hopeless and dark, but as my wife, the anthroposophist, reminds me, the shortest day of light has already passed. The light—and hope—will gradually return.
Many of us who read this blog are confessed bibliophiles. So pick up a book. I’d suggest The Secret Life of Trees if you want to be reminded that the rule of nature is not survival of the fittest, is not red in tooth and claw, but is rather the way of mutual cooperation.
Next, perfect a recipe for a drink. A Hot Toddy, or a Manhattan. Something that promotes reflection. Not beer. Maybe port.
Then set aside an hour or two each night to read and sip your drink. Post a comment to this blog with your choices. Let us in on your secrets.
I’m going to choose To Kill a Mockingbird, because it’s been a few years. And I’ll continue my ongoing experiment with the classic Manhattan.
If you cannot do both, do the reading. Do not just drink. :)
Merry Christmas to you all.
2 shots Rye whiskey
1 shot sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 twist orange peel, or a dash of orange liqueur or orange bitters
Mix liquid ingredients together in a glass with a single ice cube. Stir 30 times.
Twist the orange peel over the glass and drop in.
Garnish with a cherry and add a few drops of the cherry juice.
In cold weather, remove the ice cube.