Because of The Desert

Luke Mehall - 06/01/2017

My anger is finally subsiding. It’s not because I’ve started to accept this Trump version of the United States, but rather I’ve been realizing even this too shall pass. And it’s all because of The Desert.

I capitalized “The Desert” because to me it is an almighty place, a place I go to heal (even when I’m simultaneously getting cut and scratched up) and find perspective. It has been The Desert long before it was Colorado or Utah or Arizona. And it will outlive and outlast us all.

I am the child of a Democrat and a Republican. That’s oversimplifying it, because at their core my parents are both compassionate, conservative Catholics, but most elections my parents vote for different candidates for president. That’s always amazed me, because they get along so well. I’ve never seen my parents have a big fight in their 40- plus years of marriage.

I think a lot of us who were/are outraged at the rise of Trumpism were relieved or disappointed when we found out whom our family members voted for. I was personally relieved to find out no one in my immediate family voted for Trump. My 89-year-old grandma said to me, “We’re the laughing stock of the world.”

My parents still voted for different candidates, but something in my heart felt validated to learn they weren’t sucked into the vacuum of ignorance and intolerance that is Trumpism. Trump, to me, and so many, represents white supremacy, misogyny and love of capitalism over God/Nature. Yes, I capitalized Nature, because after all she is supreme. It would have been my dad who could have voted for him, after all he’s the one who leans harder to the Republican side, but he didn’t vote for Trump because of moral reasons. I can’t tell you how proud that made me of my father, and it also made me sad for my friends whose parents went the other way, as I watched them reconcile.

My anger at Trump becoming president has stemmed from my beliefs of what morality is and should be, and that’s something I got from my parents. The problem with my argument here is that the other main alternative from Trump was Hillary Clinton. I’m not going to linger much here, but Hillary was so hard for me to be enthusiastic about. She never seemed energetic or inspiring, and she was basically the essence of what people hate about Democrats and liberals. Hillary was about as inspiring to me as a bottle of whiskey (I’m a beer guy.) The other side of this too, is that Hillary herself was a victim of a misogynistic man, her husband Bill. For years she had to live in the public spotlight defending someone who has a whole heck of a lot in common with Trump.

So here I am writing the same stuff many of us have had going through our heads for the last six months or so. (Or maybe not, maybe you loved Hillary, and we can agree to disagree.) And for these six months my anger has been festering, and all directed at this piece of shit we call our president and his avid supporters (notice I wrote avid, just because you voted for Trump probably doesn’t make you a bad person). But somewhere in the red rocks of The Desert my anger has finally been channeled. Perhaps it ended up in the crack of a buttress of Wingate sandstone; or maybe in the thorn of a blooming desert cactus; or in the smoke of a campfire. Somewhere, some way, I’m getting back to myself. Maybe the explanation is best found in some lines of a poem I wrote after one particularly inspiring trip:


The blue sky
Doesn’t know that Donald Trump is President And maybe, you, too.
Should forget about that just, just for a second


It’s not your fault the world has gone cray
That’s not a typo the world is cray cray

It’s not your fault Donald Trump is president
He is an accurate reflection of direction
Where people are going
What they are going to be

But that’s not you and me babe
We gotta find another way
Gotta live for a better day


It doesn’t hurt that out there, away from the cell phone and news, that unless someone brings up his name, I don’t have to think about Trump too much. Ignorance is bliss, right? Naw, it’s not. Like many of us, this has woken me up to become more engaged in politics and “the process.” That will be the biggest blessing of this whole Trump/Pence disaster.

Recently on my traverse of the landscape between Durango and The Desert, I listened to an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Hasan Minhaj, a comedian and correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” The son of Muslim-Indian immigrants, Minhaj had the same outrage as many of us did with Trump. But the realities hit his family much closer – his mother was out of the country in India when Trump was elected. Minhaj spent election night not only rewriting his jokes for “The Daily Show” but also buying his mom a flight home, as they feared the worst from Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposed ban.

There was a term that Minhaj used to describe himself as an “angry optimist.” Wow, that’s where I’m at right now. Because being an angry pessimist would be so defeating. I later learned that he got this term from previous “Daily Show” host, Jon Stewart, who wrote a book of the same name.

I am angry because we have a leader who probably accurately represents a small percentage of Americans. I am optimistic because he does not represent the majority, and the majority seems inspired to be more involved with the political process. Even more than that, The Desert makes me optimistic because Nature is greater than human, and this wave of Trumpism will eventually crash. There’s a whole lot of grey in between, a million more issues to discuss, a million more reasons to be angry, and a million reasons to be an optimist.

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