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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Casteel

Step into your cave

Friday was one of the worst days in recent memory. In the middle of a pandemic, with the world on fire around us, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. The news left me with that hollow feeling you get in your stomach when you've had the wind knocked out of you. Before anyone could even mourn the passing of a great hero for equality and justice, the Republicans had already announced they were going to replace her just weeks away from a presidential election, reversing their position from when they refused to approve Obama's Supreme Court nominee in his last term.

The Supreme Court, like the Electoral College, is a broken system in the current age of politics. One president gets to select a justice who will sit for decades and decide 1/9 of the law of the land. Losing a liberal justice in the middle of a conservative presidency is an immeasurable tragedy that will affect us for decades to come.

It's right to feel hollow when something this bad happens. Moments like this need you to mourn them. You have to acknowledge how bad it is and then let yourself feel the anger and sorrow.

What you don't have to do is to watch the tragedy trudge to it's inevitable end. Returning again and again to the news, which is nothing more than other people sharing their responses to the tragedy.

Instead, do what you can do.

Sign the petition asking that Ginsburg's seat not be filled until after the election

Donate to the Democrats so we can take back the other branches of government at

Volunteer to help the Democrats at

Then turn off the news and go out and enjoy the good air while it lasts. Spend time with your love ones. The news is horrible right now, which is more reason to be present.

When I was learning how to dive, the toughest thing to learn was how to get out into the ocean from a shore dive. You're covered in heavy equipment, wearing big flippers that are hard to walk in and the waves are pounding you relentlessly. My first attempts were miserable failures. I'd get into the roughest part of the surf and focus on each wave as it was coming bracing for each one, while making little progress. I told my instructor that the waves were too rough here and asked if there was anywhere else we could start our dive. He let me know that this was the calmest spot and that if I focus on getting past the waves quickly, it would get much easier after we got past the surf into calmer waters.

He was right, when I switched my approach from watching for each wave to focus on moving forward, I got past the surf easily on my next try. We dove down and under the surf was a calm sea that held me gently and seemed to move in slow motion. It was a beautiful new world and I've taken every opportunity to revisit it since.

The news, social media and politics are the surf, swift and unrelenting. But the surf is just the surface of what's happening in an ocean which is deeper than we can fathom. All we need is clarity of purpose and we can move past the chaos of the surface to the calm of the deep.

Four years ago, when this presidency started. I created this riff on a Simpson's classic to remind me of my purpose: Do it for him.

The world had just seemingly fallen apart, but my son was still there, smiling up at me. I couldn't lose myself to despair when my baby boy needed me to be whole and be present for him.

This time when tragedy struck, he was there for me again. He saved me from doomscrolling away the hours again by reminding me that it was nice outside and we should go biking.

He set my eyes past the waves again, to the calm sea beyond. The waves will always be there. You can either sit there and let them pummel you, or you can continue towards your goal and push through them. The calm water is closer than you think. When bad things happen, do what you can to help and then come back to the present moment with the people you love. They may steal the Supreme Court Seat, but you don't have to give them your time, your mental energy or your health. Just keep moving forward and the waves will not stop you.

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