I couldn’t smell the piss that I was told might be soaking the soft clinic chairs. The sun blazed in through the glass windows and I could see rows of single story houses marching down the street. I was working at the Babbitt community center and clinic, a retirement community for the rugged. A bead of sweat was beginning to form on the top of my nose when the old man roused himself.
Those things he said about women. Awful. Not sure what’s going on anymore here. D’ya watch it last night?
It was Wednesday morning and I was hunched over a clinic computer scanning through labs and hoping that the numbers would help me forget. The room was hot and my stomach hadn’t yet uncoiled from the night before.
For the first time since Ohio fell, a little pressure lifted from my shoulders.I looked up at the old man and nodded. Then I stood up, walked across the carpet and pulled on the metal latches to feel the cool air move into the room.
The next day I was back in Ely and I screamed at a patient that I was better looking than Dr. Montana. He was mostly deaf and mostly blind. During the physical I asked him to exhale as I pressed my fingers into the soft tissue of his abdomen to feel for his liver. He looked at me with sightless eyes.
My stomach don’t hurt nothing. Least I don’t think so. Might’ve shot myself in it votin for Trump. I dunno. Beard makes you look old ya know. Thought you were older than Montana. Beard makes em handsome.
He grinned as I sat him up. The history was taken, exam completed, and note written. We were shooting the shit waiting for labs to come back. I forgot that I was screaming into his left ear. Greg the triage nurse looked at me funny when I left the room. My beard was shaggy, I hadn’t slept well since Monday night, and I was pretty sure I was wearing the exact same clothes as the day before. I didn’t have it in me to deny my claim and explain myself.
I needed time to think in the woods. I don’t have the money for a good camp stove right now so I stopped by Shopko after work to pick up a hatchet and tarp. On my way home I dropped by the bar to grab a quick beer with some of my coworkers. It was cheap, but not knowing their politics allowed me a moment of respite.
The next day I sewed up a boy’s hand in between impromptu cardiology lectures by the visiting heart doctor. The hand owner wasn’t much younger than me and regaled me with wild stories after I put the local in and the pain went away. I felt competent cleaning, numbing, and sewing the hand, and frustrated when I realized how much I forgot about cardiology. I headed up to the woods on Sat night.
It was the day before the super moon, but it was still impressive as it floated higher and higher in the sky illuminating my camp with ghostly light. The night was cold and good for sleeping. The next morning I held black and boiling coffee in my hands as I sat on the rocks and watched the sun crawl over the treeline. This morning was good for thinking.
The election had no winners. Trump and those who stood by him lost because they fell prey to our basest, saddest, and most pathetic selves. History never smiles on those who act out of fear and hate. However, human civilization is but the blink of an eye in the cosmos, so this is about something bigger than history. America lost this election because love lost, decency lost, equality lost, and justice lost.
We aren’t lost because we lost the election. The struggle for love, decency, equality, and justice plays out from the micro to the macro level every single day in every single human interaction. I have hope that this election will teach us by opening up our eyes to our flaws and bringing people together to fight for love.
But words are nothing, especially these words which are only echos in the deafening chorus of pain and sadness. There are real people who are in fear and pain because of the results on Tuesday night. There is a generation of women, girls, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ citizens, and muslims who all may feel unwelcome and less than. There are women, children, and men who will suffer because of the actions Trump has threatened and behaviors that he has legitimized. There are people suffering already today because of fear and hate that existed long before Trump entered the stage.
Therefore it is up to every one of us to make use of our own blink in time to fight for love and make the world a better place. I don’t need to lay out an argument for this philosophy because I know that it is embedded in our DNA. From the pro Trump diabetic overjoyed by the success of his CABG, to the six foot tall and devilishly flirtatious 87 year old Lady in Blue, each patient I meet has a goodness in them.
So sitting in the sun and drinking coffee on a cold morning in the BWCA, I thought about how I needed to buy better cookware as well as how I personally will move forward without losing faith in the humanity of those around me. I guess it’s my own weaknesses that comfort me, because I know if I can be better then we all can be better. Although I voted for Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump, I know that there are days in which I lose my own battles to fear and anger, as do we all.
I can count on one hand the moments and people which/who make me want to be a better man. It’s why I keep feeling drawn to them no matter how destructive they might be. I vow to keep coming back to this election to remind myself to use my time on this earth to stand up and fight for the wellbeing of all people no matter what their gender, color, culture, sexuality, or religious creed. I will work towards being brave enough to make the inevitable sacrifices that come with fighting injustice. And I won’t lose hope.