Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

Get up - Essay from Newsletter 110

It’s not over til it’s over

The past

I have a friend who hates Sorkin so he may be gone before the end of the next paragraph. As always, my essays wander a bit and here’s where this one begins.

I recently rewatched The West Wing and The Newsroom and there are a lot of scenes and situations that Sorkin returns to.

In each series there is an episode that includes a story about climate change and in each the message is clear: what we needed to do is start working on this twenty years ago.

At this point there’s nothing we can do to really fix things - but there are some things we can do to keep things from getting as bad as they can get.

I thought of that message this morning when I woke up and headed out to vote in Ohio’s primary.

There’s nothing I can do about the people who stayed home in 2016 because they just couldn’t vote for Hillary.

They were proud that they didn’t vote for Trump. But they didn’t vote against him either - and here we are.

Voting rights gutted. Democracy under attack.

“Oh come on Daniel,” you say, “you’re bumming me out. Do we have to talk about politics?”

We don’t. Let me tell you about my accident this weekend.

The fall

So, spoiler alert, I’m ok. A little sore. But ok.

“Daniel,” you say, “you can’t be fine. Those aren’t even sentences.”

True. But I always write like that.

Anyway, my bike has been in the shop for nearly a month and finally they got the part they needed and called me to come pick it up.

So Saturday I picked it up and rode it around the parking lot to make sure everything was ok.

It was so I drove to the Bedford Reservation where there’s a nice biking and hiking multipurpose trail.

I rode out and felt great. On the way back I was coming down a hill and it felt so nice and so free that I coasted until I was going way too fast.

By the time I realized I was going that fast it was too late to safely brake.

I tried and was unable to slow myself effectively. My bike wandered a little wide of the path and I couldn’t steer my way back on.

I saw a tree in my path and I couldn’t brake and I couldn’t steer and so I ditched the bike. I hit the brakes hard and the bike gave way below me and I slid quite a ways.

Thank goodness it was cool enough that I was wearing long sleeves and long pants. My leg and arm have sizable scabs but if they were bare it would have been a lot worse. Thank goodness I wore a good helmet. I didn’t fall on my head but it did bump a little during my slide and that would have been worse.

When I came to a stop I lay there.

Swear words I have never used in my life came out of my mouth.

I thought, “a lot of good this getting healthy is doing for me - I’m going to die getting fresh air and exercising.”

I lay for a bit and tried to assess whether I’d broken anything.

I hadn’t.

I felt old and vulnerable. My phone was ok and I could have called for help if I needed it.

I didn’t.

I hurt as I tried to sit up. Those same swear words popped out of my mouth again.

I stood up and looked at my bike. It looked ok. I gingerly got back on it and rode the four miles back to my car.

I folded the bike and put it in the trunk. I sat for a while and called a sub shop and ordered a sandwich. I was hurt - clearly I needed to eat something fun to take the edge off.

And then

Sunday morning I woke up sore. I got on my bike and rode for an hour. The derailleur seems to be out of adjustment as it popped me in and out of some gears and threw my chain at one point but it was important for me to get back on the bike right away.

Monday I woke up sore. I did another hour-long bike ride. The derailleur and the back brake seem a little off so I’ll take it back to the shop but I feel mostly ok.

This morning I woke up sore.

Sore and angry.

Last night the leak broke that the Supreme Court is voting to overturn Roe and Casey.

And I thought about the last four years - twenty years - forty years and I thought about my bike ride.

Just like the environment, there are things we should have done to shore up our democracy and the courts years ago. A vote for Hillary wasn’t just a vote for Hillary. We knew there was one Supreme Court seat to fill as Merrick Garland’s appointment had stalled. We could see the age of other justices and anticipate at least one more seat to fill.

And yet there were people who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary and didn’t see that that would help elect Trump.

Perfect was the enemy of the good.

Elie Mystal noted last night, “that the order of operations for conservative SCOTUS was important. They had to take away voting rights by eviscerating the Voting Rights Act BEFORE they could take away abortion.

They’re counting on voter suppression to blunt the backlash.”

By the time the third Trump appointee was seated on the bench, we were riding downhill at more than thirty miles an hour.

We had to have pumped the brakes much earlier.

Many of the people that saw this tried to tell us but we were too busy enjoying a nice ride on a warm spring day.

We live in a country where more than a million people have died from COVID in the past two years but it’s just too much to ask us to wear a mask when in crowded places like an airplane.

And so we’ve been thrown from our bike.

It’s not right. It’s not fair.

Take that moment and swear using words that don’t ordinarily escape your lips.

Then, if you’re able, sit up. Check that you aren’t seriously hurt yet. If you are - get help.

But if you can stand, stand.

And if you can get back on your bike, let’s ride.

There’s more work to be done than there was yesterday.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 110. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

See also Dim Sum Thinking — Theme by @mattgraham — Subscribe with RSS