I'm not going to lie—current events have me pretty bummed out.
Between the resurgence of coronavirus, the looming threat of more shutdowns, the criminal incompetence of our national leadership, the fascist violence of President Voldemort, the rising global temperatures and all the rest of it, I'm on a serious roller coaster, feeling alive with summer one day and utterly depressed the next.
So I wanted to write this column about some things that are giving me hope, or at least bringing me humor, in these turbulent times. Some of these items are super personal, and some are much more collective, but I hope they're all amusing or uplifting in ways that help you get through the day.
1. Many horrible things do end. Like the World Wars, bellbottoms, and the Bush presidencies. Grad school, 90210, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the boy band Hanson—all these things came to an end.
2. Things can change, even things you think are impossible to change. Cities across the United States are defunding and disbanding police departments, which I would have said was inconceivable this time last year. Monuments to colonizers and slaveholders are coming down all over the country. The NFL team in Washington finally retired their racist name. It took 40 years, but it's happening.
3. Things can change, even things you think are impossible to change, Part Two: On a personal note, I'm trying to get pregnant with a second kid, and I'm 40. Prevailing wisdom and some non-awesome test results might suggest I'm falling off "the fertility cliff," as they call it, but I've been reading books and who knew— you can improve the health of your eggs by making a number of simple changes in your life. There's a ton of actual research behind it. This is super encouraging. I might not be doomed after all.
4. Food is ready to harvest and sunflowers are blooming everywhere. Plus, monsoons. It's raining! The plants are so psyched right now. The long, hot wait of June is over. I've got ripe tomatoes and abundant kale. The apples are plumping up on the trees and the cosmos will open any day. Thank God for gardens.
5. Maybe Trump's doing such a terrible job with coronavirus that he won't get reelected. That's about the only silver lining I can find in the American COVID catastrophe. He's really blowing it. There was an actual sentence in The Guardian last week announcing Trump "says DNA from aliens is being used in medical treatments." This was mentioned casually, almost as an aside. This was not The Onion. It's so hard to depose an incumbent…maybe his astonishing failures will finally be enough?
6. Getting shit done makes you feel better. With the help of some awesome friends, we just built a bad-ass chicken pen at my house. It's solid. We made it happen. With help from friends. Looking at it in the backyard makes me feel a little more capable, a little less powerless, every day.
7. The cuteness of intrepid toddlers is delightful. I didn't get one of those cautious kids. I got the not-yet-2-year-old who climbs to the top rung of a 6 foot ladder when your back is turned and beams with achievement before you whisk her away to safety. While she terrifies us daily, I greatly admire her pluck.
8. The protesters are relentless. Trump's nonsense decision to send the Feds into "dangerous cities" is completely backfiring. Protests are growing stronger every day and people are not being intimidated into silence. They're fighting off feds with leaf blowers and playing street hockey with tear gas canisters. Fuck yeah.
9. Toddlers can be incredibly loving little rascals. After my wife explained to my daughter that she gave me a bad ouchie by casually throwing a phone at my head yesterday, the munchkin came running down the hall crying and yelling "kiss, kiss!" at the top of her lungs because she desperately wanted to kiss my bump and make it all better. She did.
10. Our new chickens are laying eggs. My daughter's face is radiant every time she feeds the chickens or finds an egg. It makes me think of that scene in The Dark Crystal where the Skeksis extract the life essence from the podlings. Not the horrendous extraction piece, but the life essence itself. Her face is full of that energy, just shining and shining, and no one is taking it away.
Necessary Magic is a semi-regular column wherein writer and artist Jacks McNamara explores queer issues, liberatory politics, magical creatures and other relevant topics. Learn more at jacksmcnamara.net.