Was it the thing about the elephants? Or was it the thing about tax breaks for people who own golf courses and private jets? Wait, was it the thing about the dude and accusations of sexual harassment?
It was probably the Twitter feed wasn’t it?
No, it could have been further proof of systematic racism that is still firmly entrenched into our society. That might have been it. Oh, maybe it was those jocks kneeling or that pretend cowboy and the teenage girls or Justice League or the new Taylor Swift album.
When was your breaking point? Everyone has a different one, that fateful moment when you cross into the ever dangerous eff it all territory and drown your sorrows in the sour nectar of sickening defeat. Like comedy, everyone interprets the world in different ways. What you find funny, someone else might not. What you find truly disheartening, someone might find amazing. This makes life interesting. If we all felt the same way at once, things would get dark fast. We would also hit our breaking point at the same time. Talk about things getting dark fast.
For about a year now, it seems like everyone has hit their breaking point, when they throw their hands in the air and scream to the high heavens, at some time or another. Everyone has looked at something, read something, heard something and responded with a defeated sigh, a slumping of the shoulders and a general air of exasperation that is the physical embodiment of the waving of a white flag. It’s been a tough year and the hits just keep coming. And this isn’t even limited to just one side of the political and ideological spectrum. Everyone is inching closer and closer to the abyss, regardless of what “side” you find yourself on.
Look at the NFL. You could have reached your breaking point with professional football either because of all the devastating injuries and stomach-churning hits that look to have left a guy paralyzed or because of players kneeling during the National Anthem. Or how about this – someone’s reaction or over-reaction to one of those things could have been the impetus for you reaching your breaking point. The journey is relative, but the destination is the same – a strong disdain for a sport that only a few years ago was deemed untouchable. Breaking point reached; on both sides of the aisle.
The idea of a breaking point has become so prevalent lately because as the year 2017 trudges on, things don’t seem to be getting any better. The fears we harbored when we bid a not-so fond adieu to 2016 have become realized tenfold. Is it all Trump’s fault? No. But is a lot it his fault, either directly or indirectly? Yes. Our country isn’t just in the midst of dark days, the darkness is toxic and pervasive, finding it’s way into almost every nook and corner of our society. Again, football is an example. Watching football used to be a outlet, a way to remove yourself from current pitfalls and booby traps. But then the kneeling issue was put on a blast, became a flag for the talking heads and the Facebook mob and Twitter kids to fight over and all of sudden football wasn’t what it used to be. Instead it had become a sideshow for what was or wasn’t happening before games.
Distractions in general have become harder to come by, harder to enjoy. Saturday Night Live, which had a complicated relationship with Trump for most of 2016, ultimately finished strong, and the portrayal of Trump by Alec Baldwin was a revelation. But in 2017 the show has suffered because the bleakness of the world outside 30 Rock has made it harder for them to find ways to poke fun at it. Their version of Trump being the prime example of this. Baldwin’s Trump was fun for a minute, but unfortunately it’s veered off into a land of forced laughs and shots that hit a little too close to home. It took at least five years for George W. Bush to get into that zone where everything is too sad/frustrating to be funny. Trump got there in under a year.
We definitely lost some heavy-hitters in 2016, people like Prince, David Bowie, Muhammed Ali, Florence Henderson, Gary Shandling and Carrie Fisher, but through eleven and a half months of 2017, we are looking at a year that rivals the previous year. Petty, Cornell, plus Roy Halladay, Sam Shepard, Adam West among others have all died this year; people who had a significant impact on people’s lives. Don’t sleep on someone like Shepard kids. Chris Pratt and Anna Faris broke up, Twin Peaks finally came back and was kind of a let down according to your friend with Showtime and I’d be lying if I said that the Louis C.K. scandal didn’t bum me out for purely selfish reasons for at least a little while there.
Come on, was Baby Driver really that good, America?
The World Series should have been the perfect distraction from our anxiety and panic-stricken daily lives, but then we were robbed of a dream series of the Yankees versus the Dodgers because the Yankees lost to the Houston Astros. It seemed okay for a second though, because the Astros were there and they looked like a fun team to root for. Of course then one of their players had to mock Yu Darvish of the Dodgers and just like that it didn’t feel as good hoping the Astros won, especially because baseball is ridiculous and even though they suspended the dude, he immediately appealed, meaning he could continue to play and his suspension will now likely take place at the start of the 2018 season.
And let’s not pretend we all care immensely about soccer, but at least a good chunk of us care about it when it’s the World Cup and America is in it. Even though we know the U.S. isn’t going to win it or really even get close to winning it, it’s still fun to pretend for a day or two that they might and dip out on work to watch them play. Unfortunately we’ll have to find another team to support in 2018 because the American squad failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the first time that’s happened since 1986. I suppose we can cheer for Mexico and pretend to be friends until this wall goes up, right? Italy didn’t make it either and we could at least take some comfort in knowing that that’s probably a much bigger deal for them that it is for us. Nothing says America more than delighting in the misfortune of others.
Outside of sports and pop culture and for a moment, outside of Trump, did you even know that there was a shooting in California last week? It’d be understandable for you not to seeing as how we are still processing the last mass shooting, which took place in Texas about a week before that and that was a little over a month after 57 people were killed at a concert in Las Vegas. You could also be forgiven for losing track of the number of hurricanes to hit parts of the country and it’s neighbors in recent months or not being sure what part of California was last affected by a destructive wild fire.
Here’s a hint: a lot would be a suitable answer in both instances.
But we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t assign the bulk of the blame for our current mood of disparity to our 45th President. Again, not everything is his fault. We can’t blame Trump for the death of Tom Petty or the U.S. failing to qualify for the World Cup. But that might be it. Beyond that, Trump has turned the presidency into a wildly destructive, flaming clown car of absurdity. Remember when lying was generally frowned upon? Remember when we could all agree that Nazis and the Klan were raging assholes? Remember when we could be confident that when called upon, the President would find a way to take the high road because it was what was expected of him, what was required of him?
Trump has managed to create such an ongoing storm of feces that it’s become almost impossible to keep track. I can’t back this claim up with facts, but I would imagine that at least 1 out of every 3 push alerts you receive on your phone are Trump-related and of those, at least 80% cause you to wonder if this is real life or some kind of bastardized version of it. Again, not everything is Trump’s fault but I do think that Trump has soured the mood so much that if anything else comes along that is a negative, the degree of how much of a bummer it is becomes magnified, as if everything that happens is accompanied by ..and then this happened.
For instance, Petty died on October 2nd. A few days earlier, Trump had been engaged with a war of words with the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico over hurricane assistance. So you’re sitting there on the morning of October 2nd, wondering why on earth the President feels it necessary to pick fights with a woman who is wading through flood waters to save her citizens and then this happened, Tom Petty died. Petty dying under normal circumstances would have been tough, but under Trump-influenced circumstances it seemed like it hurt even more.
So, Petty’s death? Not Trump’s fault. But Trump didn’t help.
You’d like to think that the year can still turn around and in it’s last month, 2017 can go ahead and totally redeem itself. But there’s a tax bill being floated right now that will not only add to the national debt, but kick 13 million people off of health insurance, all while making things easier for rich people to pass along their inheritance to their kids. Pedophilia is somehow being dismissed by Republicans in favor of nominating Supreme Court justices and if you’re a woman who has been sexually abused, assaulted or harassed, nothing that has happened in the past month is making it any easier for you to come forward and tell your story. The idea of a nuclear war with North Korea is still a thing, so is the fact that Russia eff’d around with our election and no one with the ability to do so feels any desire to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
For me personally, I wouldn’t say I’ve hit my breaking point per say. It’s more like I’ve hit several what the eff is going on points. Maybe when looked at in their totality, perhaps at the end of the year, it’ll add up to a fairly sizable breaking point, so big I didn’t even realize it was happening at the time. Yet in the meantime, I’m resolved to try and stay positive. I’ve always been engaged in an internal struggle between being realistic and being optimistic, with the optimism often acting as a function to keep the lights on and the darkness at bay. I say everything will be amazing eventually not because I necessarily believe it, but because I believe it’s better to say than everything will continue to be absolute shit eternally. Saying it doesn’t make it so, saying it makes it seem so. It’s a distinction I’m happy to live with.
If breaking points are a fact of life, a universal truth that can’t be escaped, than dealing with a breaking point should be as well. That’s been my biggest takeaway from 2016. Yes, everything might indeed be terrible, it might be effin’ awful and horrible and disheartening and deflating.
But everything isn’t over.
Just the year is. Or almost is. We’re so close. If we’ve hit rock bottom or come close to hitting rock bottom, then the only place we have left to go is up. Better days are coming, it’s inevitable.
It’ll be amazing eventually.
It has to be.