Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.
I’m writing this post on January 19, 2021, the day before the new US President gets inaugurated. Everyone’s on edge; this is the most precarious transfer of the office we’ve had in recent memory.
The recent Capitol riot came on the tail end of a very exhausting election cycle (which culminated in a Senate special election that was called literally during the riot). This came, of course, during the middle of a global pandemic and economic crisis which worsens by the day.
And this is all of course at the tail end of four relentlessly exhausting years for anyone who has a scintilla of empathy and/or dislikes bullies and authoritarians.
I am writing this post not knowing if there will be huge news events between now and the time this comes out that will demoralize or frighten a lot of people (including me).
These are incredibly difficult conditions under which to be creative — particularly if you don’t want to just talk about the political situation constantly. I don’t write about the particulars much on my blog or social media — because such information at this point is omnipresent and I don’t have a lot that’s new or sufficiently nuanced to add to the current conversation (I’m not a poli sci expert).
Anyway, it’s been incredibly hard to focus some days — especially when writing non-fiction. (I have been finding fiction is a little easier to write during chaos.) I’ve noticed it. I’ve been talking a lot to my other writer and artist friends — and lots of folks are struggling with productivity. Even the full timers.
There’s this pervasive sense that there’s no point. That the times are hopeless, and so why even bother trying to make something beautiful? Something helpful? Something entertaining?
And I get it. Because everything I’ve done the past four years almost didn’t happen.
I’m Glad I Didn’t Quit When I Felt Things Were Hopeless. I Hope You Don’t Quit Either.
As I wrote in a post that came out in December 2016, I almost gave up on the Poly Land project shortly after the 2016 US presidential election:
That’s been the hardest part this past month — not knowing if anything I’m doing matters, that feeling that I’m “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” (as my friend Max put it).
“It all just makes me wonder: Should I descend into hedonism because the world is burning?” I asked my friend Z. “Or try to save it?”
“A little from column A. A little from column B,” Z answered.
I laughed. “I have a lot of weird fucking guilt because I made this commitment to write a blog post every day and finish my book, and I’m doing it, but it makes me feel selfish. Because who cares about my stupid writing? The world is burning. Or about to.”
And Z, the most jaded fuck I know, with no compelling reason to tell me this, replied, “No, it’s important because you’re sharing your voice, which right now a lot of people need to hear, so they know they aren’t alone.”
I’m here to tell you that what you’re doing matters, too.
Nope, stop it. Don’t argue.
It matters. It does. It fucking does.
And I’m still here to tell you that. I almost quit this project. It seemed silly to work on something like this — with all the big issues going on in the world.
But if I hadn’t done that, this project probably wouldn’t exist. The magic right time to start this would never have existed. And over the past four years, I’ve heard from so many of you readers personally. A lot of you have thanked me for being a voice that they needed to hear. As I write this post, Poly Land continues to grow. And so do I.
Thank you for being there all of this time. Thank you for showing up, too.
I’m glad I didn’t quit when I wanted to. I hope you don’t quit either. But it’s okay to take a break if you need one. And it’s certainly okay to enjoy whatever calm you can find in this sea of unrest.