We’re Not So Starry-Eyed Anymore

I know I’m not alone when I say that the world, the country, the news, is all crushingly depressing lately. So many of us feel powerless to effect the kind of change we need to make sure that justice, liberty, the pursuit of dreams – all those things our country was fucking founded on – are still attainable. It feels overwhelming. It feels like a lot of our naivety has been stripped away. It feels like everything weighs a million pounds.

First we were turnt up on outrage. Now we’re burnt out on outrage.

“It feels a little like the months after 9/11, when we all just wandered through like zombies because it was all just too much,” my husband remarked the other day, looking up from the glow of his laptop. He’d just sent me a list of civilians killed in botched police raids. I didn’t read it. I already knew there were too many, the instances were too galling.

It’s not that it’s one thing we can focus on, however, like 9/11 – it’s EVERYTHING. It’s the seemingly unstoppable tide of unarmed deaths of people of color by police who are supposed to protect us, and there’s no repercussions at all. At fucking all. The backlash against the victims that makes certain cross-sections of America look embarrassingly ignorant, classless, racist, and awful. It’s Rolling Stone throwing their victim under the bus. It’s climate change, the squeezing of the middle class, the feeling that every politician has been bought and they’re barely bothering to hide it anymore.

It doesn’t help that the holiday season is often a time for intense stress for so many folks. I am one – while I truly want to feel the wonder, the magic of Christmas that I did as a kid, it’s no longer happening for me. I haven’t belonged to a religion since I was a teenager. I hate with a passion the crass commercialization that goes on during December. So while a lot of people take solace in the joy of the holidays, there’s those of us that go the other way.

i feel you, buddy

i feel you, buddy


I struggle to come up with an answer to how I, how WE, how all of us that feel this, can make it better.

Usually our job here at the Clam is to cheer people up – make people laugh, make people think, piss some folks off, but our goal is to MAKE SHIT BETTER. A lot of that we do with humor, sometimes we’re serious, but a heck of a lot of the behind the scenes Clam conversations are about making people, making businesses, making the city better. I want to make this better for everyone.

But I’m not sure how, when I can’t even make it better for myself.

Do I tell you to take comfort in the small joys in life? I guess. Maybe you already do that. Maybe you already sniff out the positive articles on Facebook and enjoy them or share them. Maybe you already look around, realize we live in an incredible time of technology, of medicine, a time when knowledge is exploding, and take solace in that.

Maybe you do all that already and this is all still overwhelming and too big. It’s too much all at once, isn’t it?

I can’t make it better right now. At least, perhaps, by acknowledging the crushing weight so many of us are feeling, we can all stop feeling so alone in our anger-overload. Maybe the fact that we feel the anger and outrage, even if we’re so burnt out, means we care. We’re engaged, we’re listening, and we want to make it better.


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  1. “The world is too much with us;”

  2. This strikes home.

    I’ve been ruminating on these same things.

    Here’s what I do and why:

    I volunteer with organizations that rely heavily on volunteers, but I do it in areas that are completely new to me. Heaven help the guides who have to tolerate my “learn by FAIL” pedagogy. The benefits? Among others, petting lobsters is a highlight.Learning a hella about things both esoteric and beautiful; critical and exquisitely sad.

    I try to be a thoughtful neighbor, and that means checking with neighbors to make sure that they are OK, have a ride to the polls, have the means to register to vote, sweep and shovel beyond the property line, have enough good food to eat, help when they are ill or injured, and lend a waterproof shoulder to cry on and an open, listening ear when they need one.

    I write pithy comments on the NYT, and that lets me vent, albeit with having to have an informed argument in order to meet the publication guidelines. You get to do it here, you lucky Clamminator.

    I live by the motto, sarcasm, cynicism and snide because I am a depressed pessimistic realist. But I try to practice kindness.

    I mutter to myself (excellent strategy for getting a seat on the T, BTW). Maybe this last one, not so much.

    I don’t think it gets better. But I’m trying to keep it from getting worse.

  3. ::hands KT mug of from-scratch hot chocolate topped with Fluff::

    Bottom line : we know too much and spend far too much time comparing and feeling powerless as a result.

    And Christmas is only as commercial as you let it be. My (now adult) kids always say that decorating the tree and making cookies are their favorite parts. And I’m far from religious. It’s about traditions and all that business for me.

  4. Christopher Anderson

    Amen. It’s a struggle right now. It’s a time of massive change, hopefully for the better. We’re waking up to a lot of messed up stuff we’ve been ignoring for way too long.

    But last night, instead of going out like I planned, I stayed home and put up the tree and decorated it and all that. We have very little cash for presents this year (not that we typically buy much), but seeing the kids in such bliss reminded me that the struggle is indeed worth it. They don’t need plastic toys destined for the landfill once they break. It’s the simple stuff that matters–spending time with your family doing simple stuff together. They need that. I need that. We all need that.

    Parenthood has brought back the punk rocker in me–I’m furious that we’ve let things go so far (environment, politics, racism, etc.) and our children will have to pick up the bill. So I’m trying to channel some of this helplessness into an anger I can use as a tool (writing) to bring about change, and then decompressing by spending time with my family and friends. And guess what? It may seem terrible right now, but it really is a wonderful life when you have family and good friends.

    Writing about it matters. It really does. Naming it puts a spotlight on it, at least temporarily. So thank you for shining your light.

  5. Still not living in a mud hut in Afghanistan…can’t say that life is all that bad. If it’s bad, its public. That what is good, goes unreported and unnoticed. I am aware of much of that and celebrate it and try and contribute something and be happy that I am here and not in…whatever my mother told me was a place I should be grateful not to be…I think it was in Africa.

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