These are unprecedented times; not only the past four years, but the past few days and weeks. There's simply nothing in American history that could have prepared us for what we've just been through.
As we write this, voters are still going to the polls and the outcome of the 2020 election won't be known, in the best case scenario, until late Tuesday or early Wednesday. More likely, the final result, at least in the presidential contest, may not be determined for days. Possibly weeks. As if there's not already enough anxiety to go around.
This is a perfect time to pause. Whatever the outcome of the election, whatever happens in reaction to the results, are largely out of our control. While it's not possible to put completely out of mind, it is possible to set it aside for a time, to let it go and let in something else. Something more pleasant and relaxing.
How? First, breathe. Then open your eyes. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, a place that attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year who pay top dollar to experience what we often take for granted. Sure, the air is crisp and the wind brisk, but most Cape Codders consider the autumn the best time of year to be on this peninsula. Walk the beach, marvel at the way the sand and water interact, the bits and pieces of life left on the shore. Step into the woods, follow one of the many nature trails that lead away from the noise of traffic and civilization. “When we walk in the woods or by the sea, we feel our smallness, the truth of our reality in a big world,” Nature Connection columnist Mary Richmond wrote in last week's paper. “When we sit on a big rock that is thousands and thousands of years old, we feel our impermanence. No house, car, bank account balance or job can change that.”
As she also noted, remember to stay connected, not just to the natural world but to each other. Much has been made of the polarization that's gripping our country, and we are not immune to that here. But the beauty of small towns is that we also take care of each other, all ideology aside. Just look at the outpouring of generosity and support for those who experiencing difficult times during the pandemic. The Chatham Coronavirus Impact Fund alone has distributed $327,272 since its inception in April, helping 1,453 individuals through direct financial assistance and the Chatham Elementary School's food pantry. As noted in this week's paper, COVID-19 cases are climbing, and the possibility of further restrictions looms over many businesses and workers who have already had a horrendous year. The coming months will be difficult, but we are confident folks will step up – via the Chatham Coronavirus Impact Fund, the Chatham Children's Fund, the Harwich Children's Fund, the Lower Cape Outreach Council and other selfless organizations – to ensure that fellow residents are able to make it through the winter.
For now, take a step back, let the events of this week reach whatever conclusion they may, and be thankful for the place we live and the people we live here with.