A Startling Sort of Relief

January 22, 2021 Originally published on Rapture Machine

It’s a startling, disorienting sort of relief, like a large, deeply embedded sliver, one made of burning glass and night sweats and the plaintive screams of suicidal hyenas, finally being removed from your big toe. Or when you finally enjoy a glass of fresh, cool water after being dragged across a scorching desert, except the water is actually just basic human decency and the desert is a bloated, hate-shaped hole in the vast totality of human consciousness.

Have you ever had unexpected surgery in a third-world country? And the wonky anesthesia wears off and you wake up feeling strange and lost but also sort of hazily relaxed – but oh wait no, you seem to be missing a kidney and hey where are my shoes and what happened to your right eyeball? It’s kind of like that. You’re *probably* gonna make it, but it might require a catheter and some decent boots.

It appears we have, for the moment and oh my fucking god just barely, wrested democracy back from the putrid demon of raging white supremacy, hacked off the final tentacles of furious-white-guy ignorance that were wrapped around the throat of fundamental intelligence, watched in exhausted joy as the creepy orange wheelbarrow of hate took his last Air Force One flight to his Florida inbreeding compound, never to inspire a globally nauseating headline again.

The demon is, of course, far from dead; bulbous blocs of bulky, badly bearded bros in wraparound shades and lumpy pickup trucks are still thrashing, grunting, plotting their next move somewhere in a bathroom stall in Kentucky, stabbing at shadows, boycotting poetry and Lady Gaga and complex grammatical constructions forevermore. Bring your pepper spray.

What do you do with a staggering moment like this? Celebrate? Exhale? Blink 1,000 times and cry out to the gods as you pinch your exhausted doom-scrolling thumb to make sure it’s all real? Mask up, mourn our incalculable losses, remain vigilant and invite kindness at every possible turn? All of those? All of those. On we go.

Mark Morford

About Mark Morford