I begin my weekend with a restorative yoga class with one of my dearest friends. We lie on our mats, towels over our eyes while our muscles yield to each extended pose, and our thoughts dissolve in a cradle of live guitar and gentle Sanskrit chants.
Afterward, drowsy and soft with our limbs, we sit at a nearby restaurant, unfolding the days since we’ve seen each other over wine and dessert.
The next morning, I meet with a couple I’ll be marrying, spend the better part of our consultation pressed into the quiet radiance of their love story, the warm cadence of words and lingering glances.
Then, it’s lunch with another cherished friend I don’t often get to see before an event where she’s scheduled to perform. Though I don’t plan past seeing her sing with her talented trio, I end up letting the hours unspool in the back of a coffee shop where more of her friends arrive, and we stuff ourselves with lavish conversation and boisterous laughter.
When a new mom with her five-month-old daughter joins our circle, we collectively swoon, praising her big, curious eyes and cherub’s cheeks, her hedgehog onesie and easy calm in our midst. We murmur our adoration, our silly nothing words, and when she reaches for me, I snuggle her in, inhale the pure wonder of her, the scent of unbroken light.
Sunday brings another meeting with another couple in the lazy sprawl of a bookstore. Together, we stitch a way forward, craft a vision to usher them into their new life together, trimmed in the sureness of love.
When I head to my mom’s for our weekly family dinner, we sit at the table for more than two hours, fastening our tongues to the savory comfort of salmon, black beans and yucca, and phrases that don’t tremble with the fever of fear, the sting of erupting rage.
Yes, we circle around the Muslim ban, the refugees, the environment, the heartbreaking, reckless lunacy of too many decisions descending like fists in one week. My brother tells us he sobbed over the kitchen sink that morning watching the news from our country’s airports. I tell him I would have been at the protest if I didn’t have a meeting. We talk of the sermons we heard at church, the radical notion of loving thy neighbor.
But mostly, we spill the contents of our day-to-day, make plans for the Super Bowl even if my brother is the only football watcher in our family of five, think of an early summer getaway. We celebrate my niece’s impressive score on that week’s reading test with cupcakes, chase and cuddle our puppy while regaling each other with tales of her infinite cuteness.
It is a busy weekend, and a deliberate one. I stay off Facebook, take in the news in small and intermittent doses. I want to be present where I am, to remember the bloom of my life and tend to its goodness.
Yes, I have been angry, tearful and confounded, unable to concentrate or at times find the simplest words to catch a fleeting thought. Bewilderment is a fathomless well, terror the edge where I teeter. Suddenly, I have become a voracious consumer of everything there is to know, needing a foothold among the informed and engaged because there is no other choice. Because this is the work of all of us and there is much I don’t understand.
I call my senators, write my post cards, sign petitions, hold fast to that bright cascade of hope when just a week before I marched in my first protest. I track the comments of family and friends, the swift updates, the impassioned pledges of solidarity and cogent dismantling of wild, alternative facts.
Yet I know such singular focus, and even obsession, is no way to sustain a vigilant posture, to uphold a tireless commitment to my human family and the values that unite us. For I also find such relentless immersion enervating and overwhelming.
And so I choose to unplug from the daily siege, grant myself a temporary reprieve by shifting my attention to the connections that nurture me, the moments that leak an effortless joy into my life. I need to seize them, bask in them, or be lost to a dark paralysis. I need to remember the language of pre-rupture and pre-catastrophe, to keep my center in the furor of this devastating storm.
Embracing what I hold dear is also embracing all so many stand to lose. And I need that reminder, too.
Right now, self-care feels as much a mandate as every call to action. For the weary warrior cannot crusade with tenacious fervor, the heart clenched in fear begins to shut down and clarity can be a casualty of the zealous.
As I leave my songwriter friend on Saturday, she says, “Let’s just keep loving each other.”
Each other and ourselves — to be fortified and unflagging as we rise and rise to resist.