Yesterday, on my 4 a.m. cab ride to the infamous Ithaca airport, I got into an accident. It was snowing heavily, and my cab skidded onto the other side of the road, making a 180 before slipping into a ditch off the highway. It was a truly bizarre experience. I felt as though the whole thing happened in slow motion. I remember screaming; yet, I don’t remember being afraid. Maybe it’s because I’ve been hyperemotional these past two weeks, so my mind couldn’t fully process the shock. Or perhaps my lack of sleep affected my emotional processing in a strange way, leading me to feel nothing in the moment. Regardless, it was an unusual experience, and I left feeling very lucky.
I spent my day on planes reflecting on what had just happened to me, feeling extremely grateful that no other cars had been on the road at that particular moment, that my flight didn’t get cancelled and that I was still able to make it to the airport without a single scratch or bruise. I realized that I hadn’t really felt grateful for anything in quite some time. Instead, like most, I’ve been reflecting on the “wrong” in the world, looking at my country, my community with disappointment and resentment.
In light of this election, I have moved from feeling distraught to feeling depressed. Each day, I read more stories on who our President-elect has appointed and how he plans on making our country great for some while harming the people unlike him. I have become increasingly pessimistic, as well as afraid for the rights and ways of life of my friends and family. And this continual stress, this everlasting aura of anxiety has left me in a state of perpetual mourning. I want to act, but I don’t know how. I look ahead with uncertainty and fear.
My accident yesterday sent me down a new line of thinking. I felt gratitude for the first time in a long time, looking at aspects of my life in a positive way. While my initial proclamations of gratitude were directed at my family and friends, I also thought of art and entertainment. I remembered the many forms of media I’ve consumed as of late and how these little distractions have actually helped me cope.
For starters, I’m thankful for Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism. Yes, it’s an old album, one that indie music lovers have admired and appreciated for over a decade. But I’ve found it especially pertinent and reassuring recently. Its lyrics speak to the importance of human connection and the necessity of empathy. In the song “A Lack of Color,” lead singer and lyricist, Ben Gibbard, reassures a lover that even as the world feels dark and coated in gray, there is light and color within her reach. DCFC also recently posted a message to their fans, stating that their shows have and always will be safe spaces for people of all backgrounds. I appreciate the comfort their music has given me over the years and their continual commitment to creating art for diverse audiences.
As of late, I’ve also picked up crossword puzzles. I’ve been completing the New York Times Daily Mini every morning, and I’ve been amazed at how much it improves my mood. I’m appreciative of how these puzzles also inform me on current events, as many of the clues are linked to news stories and recent happenings in world politics. The ones I do are short and easy enough that I (usually) start my day off with a little victory. These victories are valuable; they give me the slightest feeling of strength and agency. In doing something small like this each day, I’ve been able to stay slightly more positive and a tad more informed, and I’m thankful for that.
Lastly, I’m grateful for Gilmore Girls. Since the revival will be up on Netflix later this week, I’ve been re-watching old episodes to remind myself of the show’s characters and plot lines. I had forgotten how much I loved Lorelai and Rory’s relationship and how the show tackles varying types of relationships with wit and compassion. Sure, it doesn’t speak to politics or societal struggles, and no, it isn’t necessarily going to teach me anything new about the world today, but it’s a show that brings me, and many others, pleasure and enjoyment. And that is something to appreciate.
I’m doing everything in my power to stay strong right now. To find things to be thankful for in my surroundings, to gather courage and solace from the arts and to challenge my perspective and educate myself on the changes that may ensue. I’m afraid, like most, that the world, and country I’ve grown up in is at risk of catastrophic change. Still, to be active and get involved, I know I need to stop mourning first. And I’m thankful to art, to entertainment, for helping me out of this slump and pushing me towards action.
Anita Alur is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Millenial Musings appears every other Wednesday this semester.