Chilling Out in an Unchill World

I wrote this a while back. It was lost in my ever-growing Drafts tab before I ever got a chance to punch Publish. It’s a little dated now, but I put in the work, so here it is …

The Russian president, who is a former KGB agent and an all-around bad guy, is meeting with the U.S. president and they’re shaking hands, smiling for the cameras and spewing inanities as if they’re two long-lost buddies. As if one isn’t a murderous thug. As if the other isn’t a brainwashed slug.

I want to punch them both in the face.

This is our world lately. This is the mood.

A few weeks ago, the slug fell into the sweet deal of appointing another Supreme Court nominee, picking a principled if uber-right wing conservative (neither of which, of course, the slug is) who could change the face of the Court for decades. His appointment may impact everything from presidential power (the nominee thinks that presidents probably ought to be free from prosecution while in office) to reproductive rights.

We have kids trapped in caves (they got out) and kids trapped in cages (still in). A racist pizza seller. A blossoming trade war. Journalists for a community newspaper in Maryland gunned down. (The slug still calls the press — protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution — the “enemy of the people.”)

Plus, my back yard has more moss in it than grass. And our new robot vacuum cleaner has a damn mind of its own.

It’s scary out there. And in the living room.


You know what’s a constant, everyday struggle in this world? Just keeping cool. Staying calm. Simply moving along without letting the constant, everyday avalanche of bad news just bury you.

If you’re a worrier by nature, you really have it made in a lot of ways. I kind of envy worriers. There’s always something that you can grab onto if your default is “Man, this is sucky.” If that’s the way you think, the slug, I suppose, would be of some comfort to you. He reaffirms your worldview.

The same is probably true, I guess, of the cheeriest among us, the optimists, the sunny-side-uppers, the ones who (as my dear ol’ Dad used to say) don’t sweat the small stuff. The sun, after all, will come up tomorrow no matter what. And if it doesn’t, none of us has anything to worry about anyway, right? Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and all that.

Still, when you have a streak like we’ve had recently, when it seems the world is turning measurably darker, it’s awfully damn hard to stay chill. Yeah, Utah is beautiful and work is fine and everybody’s healthy and you have some money in your pocket.

But, dang

The slug, just a couple days after 12 Russian hamhands were indicted for interfering with our elections (long after the whole of the American intelligence community determined that they did) just now — again! — refused to hold Russia responsible. He couldn’t have been more disgusting in his slug-like slipperiness.

A former CIA director just labeled his performance “treasonous.”

A veteran journalist, respected when people respected the profession, had this to say:

How bad was it? Even FOX, or at least a FOX business dude, couldn’t stomach it …

Yes, even this tool, a top-drawer presidential apologist, only meekly criticized the boss:

Before I go too far afield here and really start losing my cool, I have to say this: This post wasn’t even supposed to be about politics. (Damn trickle of consciousness.) It’s about staying chill, as the boy says, in a decidedly unchill world. About keeping your cool when all about you are losing theirs.

How do you do it? How do you NOT sweat stuff in an increasingly sweaty world? How do you let it go by?

I’d like to think that a little meditation could be helpful. But, damn, I can’t sit like that. Kills my hips.

A bit of quiet introspection, perhaps. Maybe a nice trip to Zion. Holding your loved ones closer. A good laugh. A good meal.

But you know what’s more important than any of that? Knowing that some times call for you absolutely, unequivocally, with both feet and that big-ass pool of mess lying at your feet, NOT to be cool. To jump in and splash around like a 2-year-old on a tantrum.

When the stuff is not small, it’s absolutely OK to sweat. It’s OK to fret and scream and swear. It’s OK to lose your s***.

I’m not sure what we can do about a slimy garden creature running our country who cares more about image than substance, who doesn’t give a damn what he’s doing to kids in cages or people without health care or the thousands and thousands of young patriots trying to keep our country safe. If he wants to play footsies with Boris Badenov, what can we do?

It’s cool to be cool, sure. But it’s definitely acceptable, certainly in these times, to get a little heated when you feel the need. It might even be necessary for your mental health.

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