wolves-58998_1920When it comes to spirit animals, or power animals, or animal allies, I have no hierarchy. I will take whatever help I can get and look for the reason that particular help showed up. In this situation, wolves have shown up and I am grateful.

My first wolf, on the morning after the election, was howling. A wolf’s howl is one of the most primal sounds I know and it fit how I felt. My second wolf was standing above fog, unperturbed. It had a level of competence I aspire to. My third wolves are simultaneously at ease and alert, resting but watching, reading the signs. These are the wolves that will carry me forward.

In the immediate hours of the election, the wheels of habit turned – protocol, etiquette, diplomacy, things we expect at these times – and those of us who were devastated feared all this would tame the new world, lull us into acceptance. As the days go by this seems less and less likely, but I understand it. The body can tolerate extreme stress for only a limited amount of time before something has to give and the first thing to go might be the will to resist. It is a form of denial – retreat under the actual or metaphorical covers, pretend everything is going to be fine. So if we are to rise to this occasion, what must we do?

My own choices in these past days have involved trying to engage with people in a new way, at the same time more direct and less outraged. I actually take on people on Facebook that I don’t even know, just for the practice. I respond exactly as long as I can maintain an inner calm. When I feel that going off the rails, I disengage. I do that only once or twice a day and only with one or two people. I look for what we might agree on, I ask for specifics, or I supply specifics. One woman lamented that “Obama vetoed so much that was sent to him but Republicans were blamed.” Now first I couldn’t believe we were still going over this ground, but I didn’t say that. I gave her specifics – Obama used his veto power 12 times, which ties with George W. Bush and John Kennedy for the lowest in modern times, and a link to an article in TIME that documented the Republican policy of opposing Obama on everything. I didn’t interpret that or hammer her. I just answered it. I won’t do that with everything (life is too short) but I will do it some. I am in training.

Some people are simply unreachable, we have no common ground. I invite them into discussion and they respond with insults. Here my model is Kenny Rogers: “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”

I watch or read the news for only as long as I can tolerate it. That cartoon about my desire to be well-informed being in conflict with my desire to stay sane still applies, although the last phrase has become ‘my desire to be effective.’ I know what the news is now. I don’t need each new detail or each new outrage.

I scan every story critically. Sadly, the left is as guilty of hype as anyone and hype is something I want to stay far away from now. Hype is meant to create fear and fear is now the enemy.

I know I am in community. I don’t have to do everything, only the thing (or things) that have been given me to do. I can do only so much today. Tomorrow I might be able to do more, but only if I know my limits and nurture my skills.

So these wolves are my model. They have mastered the art of balance between high alert and utter calm. They know how to let their bodies rest while always scanning the landscape for what they need to know. They understand how to read signs and interpret information. They are fully present on this earth. May you know their strength and spirit. This is your new normal.