A combination of relief and determination

How nightmares end

Yesterday was the end of a chaotic week, not only for our country, but for our family. My daughter was involved in a serious car accident where she almost lost her life. She is OK and has gone back to work.

If you’ve been following my website, you know how I feel about the soon-to-be-former President of the United States. Regardless of whether the outcome of the election fills you with relief, joy, or anger, we must recognize that it is not the end of the collective nightmare we are all going through with the pandemic, economic collapse, and social division. Emerging from a nightmare is a long and painful process.

We must start with the pandemic. We have already entered the worst part of it. Yesterday, as many celebrated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s victory, over 126,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States. The number of deaths is approaching 235,000. Spikes have also been reported in Europe. With stores and indoor malls crowded by holiday shoppers, these grim statistics are likely to rise.

New leadership can help. Getting the best advice from doctors and scientists, developing better policies, investing in equipment and medical development, providing financial support to those in need, and just setting a good example—all of these can help make life safer and more manageable for us until a vaccine or treatment is found. But it won’t magically end the pandemic overnight. There will still be illness, economic hardship, suffering, and death.

Change is slow. Even a positive and intentional change, like getting rid of excess weight, is a long and difficult process. Over the past year, I’ve dropped 66 pounds (30 kilograms). Some weeks were good, and I made smart food choices and exercised. Some weeks I’ve slipped, and my weight went the wrong way. It meant giving up (or as I put it, “retiring from”) certain foods. It required substantial changes in my lifestyle. Although I’m enjoying the benefits of my hard work today, it was difficult at the beginning.

And we are at the beginning of getting out of our collective nightmare. We still have three months before the change of government. A lot can happen before then, and much of it is not good. Even as we start implementing changes, we will still have the tendency to backslide. We will grow impatient. We will give into despair. And we will face those who lurk in the shadows and seek to undermine us.

Nightmares end slowly. We take whatever small steps we can make. We find people who support us. We find some small patches of success. Gradually, we see improvement. We find reasons to smile. We will come to a place where we can regain our confidence and affirm, “I can do this.”

Nightmares end through faith. I have faith my daughter will get her insurance settlements and car repairs and be back on the road. I have faith our country and the world will get through the multiple crises we face. I have faith that better days will come, and our better angels will prevail.

Nightmares end through hard work. We must make the investments needed. We must sacrifice comforts (including the comforts of prejudice and privilege) that no longer serve us. We must resist the temptation to give up.

Nightmares end when we take that first step. The election is over. We have direction about where we are going as a country. Now, the slow, steady, patient, and hopeful work begins. I have faith that we will get through this together.