Many years ago my sister and her wife bought me a punching bag for my birthday, an Everlast. It was gifted as a way for me to get some aerobic exercise especially in the cold winter months. We put it up in our basement and periodically I have used it. It is actually fun to use and, yes, definitely aerobic. But I never have been disciplined or consistent about its use. Until now.
It happened about a month ago. I had just finished reading the news and was in my usual state of disbelief, despair, and incredulity and went into the basement. I passed by the bag and—— I punched it. I couldn’t stop for at least 10 minutes. I felt a sense of release and renewal, empowerment even. It became the conduit and drain for my feelings of exasperation at the place my country has sunk. After reading the news, the punching bag now helps me to realign and readjust all my despair muscles and helps me to strengthen my reason, my resolve, my sense of empowerment and of community.
Of course, it is not the only way I am responding to these times. I have been writing postcards (so far personally 500 of them), phone banking, donating, reading lots of books and articles pertinent to these times and discussing them with friends and family. I am an active member of several social justice organizations. I am making serious and concerted efforts at being more thoughtful and aware about the way I move through this world and interact with others.
We all know the times we are living in are unprecedented. We are in the midst of many crises and these crises have drawn back the veil from the cracks in our fantasy of the democracy we thought we lived in and even, perhaps, the fantasies we have held of ourselves. We can work to repair these broken places. We can take responsibility and be accountable for our misperceptions, denial, ignorance, and exclusion. There is so much to do it can feel overwhelming. But we need to roll up our sleeves, take a few punches on the Everlast, and then get on with the work. This is the real exercising we all need to be doing. There is no other choice.