Yesterday I got my haircut. The only other customer was 99 year-old May.
May was tiny and withdrawn; a living contrast to the extravagantly decorated salon. Her daughter and the hairdresser helped her into the chair. She said little, just watched herself in the mirror. The hairdresser chattered away, unnoticed.
After a while, May interrupted distractedly. She read, slowly and intently, from a printed quote on the hairdresser’s mirror: “Life is too short to be anything but happy.”
The hairdresser pivoted from her monologue to exclaim adoration for the quote. May paused, slowly looked up, and interrupted very sincerely: “Thank you.” The hairdresser smiled uncomfortably, then returned to her chatter.
May continued to stare at the poster. A few minutes later, she repeated it aloud to herself, drawn out and purposeful: “Life is too short to be anything but happy.”
Then, she wiped away a tear. I think I’m the only one who noticed.
Today I woke in mourning. Different, of course, then the mourning of a lost loved one. But my body felt the same: beaten, anxious, numb, disbelieving, lost, upset.
I didn’t allow myself to expect this. Now I’m bearing the burden of that lack of preparation. I hurt: for the planet, for marginalized people, for the economy, for the world.
The salon scene replayed in my head all day: the repetition,“Life is too short to be anything but happy,” then the tears. I don’t need to know May (or her political leanings) to understand she relates with the quote more than most. She’s seen the Great Depression, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, Watergate, and 9/11. She saw women and minorities get the right to vote, the Civil Rights Act Passed.
She watched the world catch on fire more than once;
and then she watched good people put the fires out.
Today, we mourn. Tomorrow, the sun rises. Life is too short to wallow in our pain.
Tomorrow, we do what those before us did:
We stand, brush our shoulders off, and get to work putting out fires. We spread happiness, love, community, and peace. We band together to get shit done.
And when we say, “It’s time to get to work,” we need to feel the full weight of our words. We can post well-intentioned status’s, but true change will take time. We need be prepared to work every single day, in big and small ways.
Put money into your local economy.
Put love and time into your local community.
Donate to causes you believe in (the more local, the better).
Speak out. Sign petitions. Start petitions. Write letters to your representatives.
If you’ve considered running for office, get started now, it’s never too early.
If you don’t want to run, throw your weight behind a candidate you believe in.
Pay attention to all races and all ballot initiatives. Then, educate others.
Protest. Follow the voices that sound in time with yours.
Focus not just on talking, but on doing. Put your boots to the pavement. We now know posting opinions on Facebook isn’t enough.
Then keep doing it. Every day. Until 2020 and beyond.
Life’s too short to be anything but happy, to give anything but our all, and to love with anything less than our whole hearts.
- Some thank yous:
A big thank you to everyone in my community who followed their words with action and made our local elections a major success (I’m talking to you Micha, PJ, Kathleen, Ana, and others I don’t know the names of). You made a lot of good happen today. Be proud, soldier on. Thank you. You guys were there when I wasn’t, I’ll provide more support next time.
- If you’re itching for actions, here are some plugs:
Donate to San Juan Citizens Alliance, your money will honestly go a very long way, no matter how much you give. Then personalize and send this letter to protect northwest New Mexico from oil and gas development. It’s time for change.