quiet satisfaction

The past two weeks have been very good for me. But, this being 2020, I cannot seem to muster more than some smiles and feelings of warm satisfaction.

Two weeks ago, thirty-two long years since the last time they did it, my Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series. We’ve had so many disappointments since the 1988 championship, not the least of being finding out we were cheated out of the 2017 title. This win was tough, especially after being behind Atlanta three games to one. But they won that series and overcame what was possibly the ugliest loss in World Series history. 

Now they are the champs. My excitement with the final out was about one-tenth what I might have expected. Possibly because I was alone at home, unable to enjoy the game with other Dodgers fans. I am still very happy we won, and I am not bored with watching highlights or reading about it. But the actually feelings of championship joy?

It’s muted.

A week later, on Election Day, my friend Gerritt won his race to be Metro Councilor for District 3. This was his most difficult of three campaigns; he couldn’t do the normal campaigning, which he enjoys: meetings, door-knocking, etc. But it forced him to focus more on fundraising, on making connections with organizations that might support him, and working however he could from home to build support.

And support he got. Local elected officials and labor unions endorsed him. Nearly one hundred people donated to his campaign. (His opponent raised nothing from supporters, just taking a few big checks from outside business interests.) All the work paid off. People knew he was the progressive candidate, and they gave him a 5-point victory. So for the next four years, they’ll be represented by one of the best people I know.

When the race was decided Wednesday morning, did I jump up and down, do a happy dance? Again, no. Despite the disappointments of previous years and the fear that this year would be another repeat, that his opponent’s funding advantage (and endorsement from The Oregonian, not to mention a ton of local government officials) would be too much to overcome – he won. He freaking won.

But hell, we can’t even have a proper celebration. We’re going to meet in a socially responsible manner this Friday, but my excitement and happiness are pretty much on the mellow side.

And then, of course, the defeat of Donald Trump. The victory of Joe Biden. Sadly, voters in Maine, Montana, and Iowa decided to stick with awful Republican Senators, so Biden’s presidency will start with some major challenges. But it will be President Biden and not Trump. That is pretty freaking awesome.

Two cheers.

This is, I’m understanding, what 2020 has done to me. I know that for me personally, for my mental health, it’s been a wonderful year. I’ve had weekly counseling most of the year, and got to participate in an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program that made a huge difference in my health. I am on track to gaining the mental healthiness I need to live the life I want to live. I’ve a long ways to go, but if I continue what I’m doing now, I’ll get there.

But there’s no denying the toll the year has taken. I don’t feel lonely, but I don’t have a lot of active connections. I probably would have spent some time with my children & grandkids at some point, but that’s not possible. I think I would have tried rebuilding some relationships. I think I would have done some campaign door-knocking at some point, at least once.

Instead, I’ve gotten together with Gerritt three or four times, and that’s it. (He has a large deck where we can meet safely.) I go shopping. I go for bike rides. I “converse” via Facebook. That’s my social life. I have been writing a lot more; I started three channels on Medium, just to have a place to write and post and get into the habit. I’m close to having my podcast going; all I need to do is record it weekly.

I am doing much better today than I was a year ago. I have even managed to stay healthy. My covid protocols are pretty solid. So yes, I am happy. I’m satisfied. I feel good about a lot of the parts of my life. The Dodgers are world champs. Biden and Gerritt both take office in January. 2021 might even bring an effective vaccine, which would mean the world returning to at least a sociability normal.

But it’s impossible to be giddy about the good things. Over 225,000 Americans have died, and there was no reason for that. Several favorite musicians have died this year. Trump’s government “lost” the parents of over 400 little kids they locked in cages. Climate change is rampaging onward. People of color still fear to exist in this country. There’s a lot of shitty stuff still going on. How can I get super-excited about my stuff?

I’m content with quiet satisfaction. Life, as the Buddha taught, is full of disappointment. Maybe what I’m learning is not to be too attached to either the bad or the good. To recognize the happiness in the moment but not try to transform it into The Greatest Thing Ever. Nothing is the most anything ever, because nothing is that permanent. 

The best part about that, of course, is that it includes all the bad shit that has dragged me down so long. None of that is permanent. Good things can take their place. Good things are taking their place.

Two cheers for quiet satisfaction.

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