I try not to think about politics when I first wake up. Instead, I look out the bank of windows facing east and check the look of things. This morning it’s rather gray, the sky and crestless bay gray. The only sound I hear is an occasional car passing in the distance, no wind whistling in the pines, no birdsong, no geese overhead honking. It’s too cold for late October, too muted, too somber.
I don’t get up immediately, unless my husband is still in bed and the coffee maker not turned on, which is rare. Usually, like this morning, he’s placed a cup of coffee on my nightstand. I reach for my cherished captain’s cup with its wide bottom to anchor against rolling seas; for me, it’s to keep the cup from tipping as it sits on my body under the sheet and quilt that my upturned knees make into a coffee tent.
I sip carefully, savoring the warm nutty taste, and reflect on the previous day, often remembering things that escaped my attention the day before. Maybe something someone said during a Zoom meeting or something I read or saw on TV or something I did or forgot to do. Anything except politics. That done, I let my mind drift wherever.
This morning my thoughts turn to color. I want to punctuate the dreariness with bright colors. I drift back a few days. A man was walking near the bay. Everything was gray, like today, the sky and bay, the trees and distant street. Except for the man’s bright orange windbreaker – a spot of cheer, a moment of joy. I remember going out for the mail, saddened by the brownness of the maple leaves covering the ground. Except when I reached a spot where the browns and dull yellows were speckled with red, newly fallen leaves still bright and somehow glorious. Another moment of joy.
I relish these moments of joy, the ones that are unexpectedly there. They don’t have to be awesome. They’re small fleeting things, like the flash of Pete Souza’s photo of Obama cradling two infants in his arms during MSNBC’s The Way I See It. Or noticing pink buds on the Christmas cactus already. Or hearing the laughter of children as they fly by on their bicycles. Or finding just the right words to describe the way I see things.
Eventually my coffee needs a warmup. I go nuke it, grab my phone on the way back, and annoy Leon the cat who has curled up on the warm spot I left behind. I nudge him over as I crawl in. I pet him. He purrs, a comforting sound. He settles in by my side and keeps purring as I turn on my phone and make a point of not reading the news feeds.
But I can’t keep myself from going to Twitter and then Facebook to see what people are saying. Lots of politics. Lots of anxiety and fear. Not enough joy. Reality is cruel right now. But humor dots the feed and photos grace the stream of entries, like landscapes, quilts, food, and grandkids. One story breaks my heart, but it’s someone’s birthday today and someone else’s anniversary. Just knowing there are such people there, everyday at any time, is consoling.
The warmth of the coffee cup feels good in my hand; the coffee is brewed to perfection. And now bolstered by caffeine and friends of good will, I begin to look forward to the new day – with hope.
Photos: My wonderful captain’s cup; our buddha cat with the last zinnia on a salt cellar; our Christmas cactus; the last of our cherry tomatoes from the garden.
P.S. Political joy found today as I was tweaking this post: Joy to the Polls (check it out).