An Awakening!

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

By Lou Cespedes

I wanted to take a break from my series this week because I wanted to share some of my thoughts about this year before it ends. I thought it might be best to speak about some of my own experiences and reflections, but then something happened a few weeks ago that made me reconsider; better served to hear another voice.

I have a friend from Queens. Her name is Shaunna. I work with Shaunna and she is younger than I am – a millennial – but fortunately we often have very in-depth conversations about things that I write, or her own projects outside of work. She and her husband, Shea, are into comics and they participate in fairs creating artwork known as “fan-art”. I really enjoy my conversations with her, in part because I can sense the uncertainties I’ve dealt with in my own life at some time or another. If you think about generational cliches, it’s unusual for two people with our considerable age difference to even have this kind of relationship. We talked often, whether personal challenges or entrepreneurial pursuits, or just doubts about why we find ourselves in the places we’re in for eight hours a day. She’s the first person I would call if I flaked out and was running late to the office. When she’s running late, I’ll try and field some of her responsibilities, so my co-workers don’t miss her or ask where she is. Sometimes, it’s tough to talk and think about life and circumstances, but we managed for a few minutes a day to let each other know.

I haven’t seen my friend Shaunna since the lockdown in March. We’ve not been good about keeping up our conversation habits on Zoom. We speak only in passing because we’re busy working without seeing each other. I get the occasional email about not keeping up with my timesheets or tasks. We may text each other occasionally, using emojis to save on words – just basic expressions: anger, fear, happiness, surprise – you get the idea.  I got a frantic call from Shaunna one Monday morning. She mentioned she was tired and slept through the morning Zoom staff meeting. She was concerned because she awoke when she heard her name spoken but couldn’t figure out what had been said or how to respond. She remained muted for a moment, then, she unmuted and said, “oh yes, sorry I was muted” – Inserting an answer that was affirming and convincing enough to have the meeting move along to the next subject.

She called me because she didn’t know what to say or what to do. I laughed! That has happened to me more times than I can count. I asked if she was ok and if she’d been working late on her art projects. I offered encouragement and I explained what’d been said during the meeting. We chatted for the first time in months over the phone. It was nice to speak to her, and it felt personal, absent the camera and filters normally associated with having Zoom calls – where most times you just stare into a black rectangle with someone’s name in white letters. We just don’t realize how much we’ve missed or how we’ve changed, in the last 10 months, let alone the last 4 years.

Then she told me, “I wrote something I want you to read – I don’t know what to think about it, but it’s something I needed to write”. A few hours later I received an email. Here it is for you to consider:

An awakening

I’ve never been politically motivated, I have no affiliation toward either major party, and was probably, like many, an average dispassionate citizen who dutifully carried out my right to vote by framing it as a choice between the lesser of two evils. there was no nuance in my thought process. To me, the candidates were merely different shades of the same turd. Why should I waste my time digging for facts amongst mountains of lies? That is how I viewed every election, and I regret not giving each one the proper reflection nor weight it deserved.

I have deep-seated beliefs, sure, but felt no need to join a group to affirm them nor shout them ALL CAPS at others. Politics was background noise I could tune out if it became too loud or obtrusive. Living through the trump administration made me realize something. nay,

it made me feel something.

Angry, I was angry! I was ashamed! I was disheartened! Most of all [though], I was engaged.

Both parties have their issues, no question, but one party deals in facts, while the other sells fantasies to desperate people. As someone who has always used language precisely and with care, I was dismayed to learn that somehow, words had become empty vessels on which anyone could project meaning. Suddenly, the truth was an elusive concept, as malleable as the country’s morals. I don’t know when or how it happened, maybe it was gradual – maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was hiding in plain sight the whole time, only now laid bare for people like me to gawk at. All I know is, something inside me had been stirred up. I do have to give credit where credit is due; Thank you, Trump, for being such an incredibly incompetent, corrupt, inhumane being that forced me to wake up.

One thing is for certain: I won’t be going back to sleep anytime soon!

I haven’t seen my friend Shaunna since the lockdown in March. We’ve not been good about keeping up our conversation habits on Zoom. We speak only in passing because we’re busy working without seeing each other. I get the occasional email about not keeping up with my timesheets or tasks. We may text each other occasionally, using emojis to save on words – just basic expressions: anger, fear, happiness, surprise – you get the idea.  I got a frantic call from Shaunna one Monday morning. She mentioned she was tired and slept through the morning Zoom staff meeting. She was concerned because she awoke when she heard her name spoken but couldn’t figure out what had been said or how to respond. She remained muted for a moment, then, she unmuted and said, “oh yes, sorry I was muted” – Inserting an answer that was affirming and convincing enough to have the meeting move along to the next subject.

She called me because she didn’t know what to say or what to do. I laughed! That has happened to me more times than I can count. I asked if she was ok and if she’d been working late on her art projects. I offered encouragement and I explained what’d been said during the meeting. We chatted for the first time in months over the phone. It was nice to speak to her, and it felt personal, absent the camera and filters normally associated with having Zoom calls – where most times you just stare into a black rectangle with someone’s name in white letters. We just don’t realize how much we’ve missed or how we’ve changed, in the last 10 months, let alone the last 4 years.

Then she told me, “I wrote something I want you to read – I don’t know what to think about it, but it’s something I needed to write”. A few hours later I received an email. Here it is for you to consider:

An awakening

I’ve never been politically motivated, I have no affiliation toward either major party, and was probably, like many, an average dispassionate citizen who dutifully carried out my right to vote by framing it as a choice between the lesser of two evils. there was no nuance in my thought process. To me, the candidates were merely different shades of the same turd. Why should I waste my time digging for facts amongst mountains of lies? That is how I viewed every election, and I regret not giving each one the proper reflection nor weight it deserved.

I have deep-seated beliefs, sure, but felt no need to join a group to affirm them nor shout them ALL CAPS at others. Politics was background noise I could tune out if it became too loud or obtrusive. Living through the trump administration made me realize something. nay,

it made me feel something.

Angry, I was angry! I was ashamed! I was disheartened! Most of all [though], I was engaged.

Both parties have their issues, no question, but one party deals in facts, while the other sells fantasies to desperate people. As someone who has always used language precisely and with care, I was dismayed to learn that somehow, words had become empty vessels on which anyone could project meaning. Suddenly, the truth was an elusive concept, as malleable as the country’s morals. I don’t know when or how it happened, maybe it was gradual – maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was hiding in plain sight the whole time, only now laid bare for people like me to gawk at. All I know is, something inside me had been stirred up. I do have to give credit where credit is due; Thank you, Trump, for being such an incredibly incompetent, corrupt, inhumane being that forced me to wake up.

One thing is for certain: I won’t be going back to sleep anytime soon!

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