Time and Place

7aea08a23754ac4ae7fb7ce0b0ca8567.jpgI was a very young child when my father died suddenly. I had a rather difficult time grasping the reality of the situation. For a very long time I had recurrent dreams in which he would return home, explaining that he had been on a long business trip. We were overjoyed to learn that he was okay and our lives continued just as they had before his fatal car accident. Sometimes even in the light of day I would have moments when I almost forgot that he was gone. I expected to see him coming through the front door smiling. Then I would remember what had happened and feel a sense of grief overtake me. Slowly but surely over a period of many months I adjusted to the reality of my situation and it was a painful experience filled with sadness and many fears.

Since that tragic time in my life I have endured other losses but none quite as surprising and gut wrenching as the death of my father. Nonetheless there were moments when I  dreamed of other loved ones who had died with such vivid reality that it seemed as though they really were still here with me. I would awake feeling disoriented and extremely disappointed upon realizing that my mind had played tricks on me. I suspect that my night time reunions with the departed were a kind of survival mechanism to help me ease into the stark realization that my world had dramatically changed and there was nothing more that I might do about it other than learn how to cope.

I have been quite weary since November. I still think back on the instant when it became clear that Donald J. Trump was going to be the next President of the United States and my mind goes foggy as though I am grappling with a concept that still has not quite computed in my brain. I was barely awake when his victory was declared at nearly three in the morning. I think that I actually went into shock. I remember seeing President Elect Trump’s face in those first moments and I believe to this very day that he was almost as surprised by his victory as I was. During those few moments when he first learned that he would be the leader of our nation he appeared genuinely humble and perhaps even a bit afraid. I almost wish he would stay that way but alas he has regained his old bravado.

I awoke early the morning after the election feeling groggy and a bit hungover, not from drink but from the brew of disbelief that still kept me from accepting what had happened. I fully expected to learn that I had only imagined that a man who seemed so singularly unqualified for the highest office in the land had actually won. In the days and weeks following I became engaged in a flurry of activity that included my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the dawn of a new year. I even lost my dear sweet cousin Jack to heart disease. All of these things kept me busy enough that I rarely even thought about the election or any of my fears of what might happen once Donald Trump takes the oath and becomes our head of state. It was not until the lights and glitter of the holiday season were tucked away that I began to think about what had happened. Amazingly I have yet to fully embrace the realities to come. Somehow I harbor the same disbelief that overtook me when my father died. I expect to learn at any minute that the whole election season had been an elaborate joke or a very bad dream.

I feel a bit weary from all of the back and forth and hatefulness that was so much a part of the election season. I’m very tired of the invective and bitterness. I’m ready to sit back and give the man a chance to demonstrate that he is not as ill suited for the job as I think he is. I grasp at moments when he actually assumes a presidential demeanor and try to give him credit when it is due. I don’t believe that writing him off before he has even begun will do our country any good. Self fulfilling prophecies rarely bring positive results. I tell myself that I need to be vigilant but also fair in judging Donald J. Trump and hope that he will prove me wrong. I would like nothing better than to witness him rising to the occasion and showing compassion and understanding for all of the citizens of our nation.

I am a peacemaker by nature, a diplomat. I believe in compromise and the power of finding points of agreement between differing camps. Deep down inside we all want a better world for our children. We unfortunately have conflicting visions of what that looks like. Sometimes the best answer to our problems is the one that takes into account everyone’s feelings. I worry that we are now so divided that we will automatically spurn offers of an olive branch even when it seems wise to give a little to get a little of what we want and need. Right now the knee jerk reactions from both sides of the political spectrum indicate that we are not yet ready to surrender our implacable points of view, which gets me to a pet peeve of mine.

I love to watch awards shows like the Grammys, Emmys, and Academy Awards. I enjoy the pomp and the celebrity of such celebrations. They provide me with an escape from the tedium of day to day realities, just as the artistry that they honor also brings me relaxation and momentary forgetfulness about the troubles that plague us. Fantasy has a way of helping us to cope just as the dreams of my father did. We want it to take us away from whatever is bothering us, not remind us of our worries. When we enter Disney World we become enchantingly entranced and leave our hurts and fears at the gate. So it is with music, television and movies. Our minds feel free as we momentarily forget whatever has been bothering us. When we honor the gifted individuals who give us the gift of their talents we want to be festive, not political. If we wanted to hear editorials we would tune in to Meet the Press or read the opinion pieces of the Washington Post.

During George W. Bush’s presidency the awards programming became boorish to me. It was almost certain that someone would launch into a tirade that I didn’t want to hear even if I agreed with the thoughts. It seemed an inappropriate time in which those of us in the audience were being held captive to points of view that had little relevance to the reason for the event. I slowly began to switch channels when such things happened and to be conditioned to not even tune in at all. For the most part these antics have disappeared in the last eight years because most celebrities were strong supporters of President Obama. Now I fear that the tactics will begin anew and I will have to abandon my viewing in protest.

I have always considered Meryl Streep to be one of the finest actresses to ever grace the silver screen. Many decades ago I listed her as my favorite star and that admiration has not abated over time. She is a gracious and supremely talented woman. I am well aware that she was a dedicated supporter of Hillary Clinton. I think she might even be a grand person to one day portray Ms. Clinton in a biopic. I deeply respect her political views as well as her disappointment in the outcome of the election because I am as stunned and worried as she is. At the Golden Globes she was given a well deserved lifetime achievement award. The acceptance speech that she gave was moderated and heartfelt but it was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A simple thank you to those who gave her this distinction was all that we needed to hear. There will be ample time and multiple places to more appropriately deliver her message. I would ask her and other celebrities to please just entertain us. We need our moments of escape and when we want to hear what they are thinking we will tune in to programming that is designed for discussions and opinions. We will read their tweets and ponder their editorials when they appear in the proper settings. We don’t want to hear lectures when our purpose is to pause from the irritations of life for an hour or two.

Celebrities must understand that we ordinary folk live in the big middle of the furor. We don’t have fences around our compounds. We have no cooks or cleaning ladies. We are our children’s nannies. We work hard and have very little free time on any given day. We have bills to pay and repairs to make. It’s not that we don’t care about the issues that are so vital to the artists who entertain us. It is only that we need a break now and again which is why we love the movies, shows and music that these gifted individuals provide us. When it comes time to honor the best of the best we want to see a celebration not a political rally. That is all that we ask. If they think about it perhaps they will understand.