I can't stop reading about the American election. I've likely logged ten hours watching speeches, debates, and comedy clips. That's six hundred minutes I could have devoted to my novel. The weekend before last I was in Taipei and during a huge storm I stayed in the hotel to take a bath, drink tea, and watch CNN. This feels a little like insanity.
My fixation has a lot to do with fear, anxiety, and a tendency to think of the worst possible outcomes. All I can think is what if? What if Donald Trump wins and the American dollar takes a nose dive, pulling the Hong Kong dollar down with it? What if Trump wins and attacks on Muslims and other people of colour intensify? What if Trump wins and he triggers a nuclear holocaust? What if Trump wins and I eat all the foods I'm allergic to because I need comfort and I have a death wish? (I'd eat a bacon mushroom burger and coconut ice cream as my last meal on earth. Oh and a mushroom pizza, bacon mac and cheese, and pork soup dumplings from Din Tai Fung. Green Thai curry with prawns. Plus Milk Bar crack pie. I can feel my eyes swelling shut and a rash forming on my face just thinking about all these delightful foods.)
On Sunday I was in the middle of a negative spiral when my therapist said to me: "It's so American to label everything. This person's a narcissist, this person's a hoarder...I wanted to go into counselling because I hate that. We are human. We aren't a label. We can't reduce other people to labels."
"We are human." I needed to hear this. If I can remember this, if I can draw on my empathy, then I can heal and be well enough to focus on the things that matter to me, like writing. Nothing grows in darkness so wallowing in negativity is not going to help. (Well, except mold, but who wants to be moldy?)
This week, if you can't move your narrative forward (whether in your writing or in your life), just think: "We are human." This is a direction. There are many places we can go from there.