It was twenty-four degrees the morning I wrote this, the sky a gunmetal gray tinged with ragged ribbons of nearly black clouds. The flags on the Long Pier flagpoles were fluttering straight out toward the south and the surface of the water a grim tungsten. Rabia and I made our way toward the bench where we sit, provoking a squadron of ducks we had not seen in their shelter beneath the bank, to yell at us as they flew off.
We sat there not talking to each other. (No, I don’t think she talks to me but I do talk to her sometimes). We had been waiting for winter and this was almost it — but not quite. A little snow is expected in the days ahead but so are a few days of nearly fifty degrees. Sitting there, taking in the fierceness of Mother Nature surrounding us juxtaposed with the weakness of our winter so far, I was taken up in a sense of foreboding.
Isn’t that a great word? Foreboding. A portent, premonition, the apprehension that a bad thing will happen. I think that describes this moment in time, at least that many of the people I know are feeling. It is a fear of budding authoritarianism, fascism even, that can be heard in the wings of public attention — from the Prompt Corner where it is said strategists gather to plan the first actions after the next inauguration. Perhaps there are others who have the same sense of foreboding about the coming election being stolen somehow. Whichever dread, we seem to be stewing in it as a society. A vast culture of foreboding even.
So many of the movies these days narrate this theme, using all manner of hazards toward which the plot travels. Media, social or otherwise, bask in it as well. But truly, we do not need to know very much about what is happening in our country, around the world, and with the planet itself in order to host a sense of foreboding. Even indefatigable Barbie became morose when she travel through the real world.
I have heard people say they have a general sense of depression but when asked it isn’t all that general. I has to do with what they dread might happen in the coming election or the rapid pace of climate change, or both. Locally, I have heard the same sense of dread about the new city counsel, that there will be an absence of leadership to address the backlog of issues limiting the future of Geneva. Living under a sense of foreboding feels like depression and has a similar strategy for getting out from under it. Do something.
Pick one small action somewhere in the field of concern that fuels your sense of foreboding. Volunteer for something that bolsters the forces for change you want to see succeed. Call someone and form a pact to take action together, giving you a sense of accountability. Change your lifestyle in some small, practical way that reduces your carbon footprint. Yammering, gripping, yelling, venting — none of that helps unless there is also at least one small act toward change to go with it. Talk is cheap so forget the FB, X, or Instagram posts. Do something, even something very small. One step at a time. Just one, and then…the next one.