What Lies Ahead? by Désirée Zamorano

Author and activist Désirée Zamorano questions how we go forward, but is unquestionably determined to fight. “Each day the news can be petrifying, freezing us in steps. What good can I do? And since we cannot do this alone, to you I say, ‘Join us, bring your art, your talent, your compassion, your energy.’ Because there is no Wonder Woman, there is no Doctor Who. There’s only us.”

A week before the election, reading the odds at a popular and now, for me, never-to-be-read-again website, I glanced over at my husband. “But what if he does win, what are we going to do then?”

Désirée Zamorano

We talked about that, and we both decided, in that tentative, imaginary way of late-night discussions, we’d have to get involved somehow, become advocates or activists. Even later, I thought to myself, but wait a minute, let’s say Hillary wins. There’s still plenty of wrong in the world. There’s still massive incarceration, incredible income disparity—I can’t let myself off the hook just because my candidate wins. There is work to be done. I decided I would have to become more involved even if she won.

How hilariously hypothetical that all is today.

That Tuesday morning I giddily tweeted, “Are the results in yet?”

I smiled knowingly to my colleagues who had worn pantsuits to celebrate our historic day. That afternoon I walked with a joyful lilt. I, perhaps like you, was so ready to say goodbye to the cheapened public discourse, to the vulgar and dismissive statements. I, perhaps like you, couldn’t wait to see that hollow narcissist smacked down and smashed.

​This, as you know, was not to be.

Wednesday morning and for many mornings after, I awoke to the weight of disbelief, dread and grief on my chest and on my soul. This was not our planet. This was not the way the world is supposed to work. Surely we were pulled wrongly into a parallel universe, the one where Spock is bearded and angry. Surely Donna Noble and David Tennant would soon set it right? ​Days passed. No one set it right.

I self-medicated with blaring comic book action movies, with mystery novels, with “Brooklyn 99,” with Hollywood endings.

I self-medicated with Rebecca Solnit’s “Hope in the Dark,” with Maud Newton’s tumblr, with the avalanche of social media friends grasping for next steps, for communities, for concrete actions.

Online I felt as if I had a machete in my hand raised against the outrageous vines of blustering bullshit. But I can’t I live 24/7 fueled by justifiable outrage and sorrow. I realize that a constant churning anxiety will destroy my will, and I will become bitter and dismissive of others’ advocacy. I can’t live with the constant dread—with its undermining and threatening distraction from the simple joys we all have: loved ones, loved animals, deep friendships, laughter. I need the emotional room for a quiet cup of coffee, my daughter’s absurdist humor, a cozy dinner with friends.

Each day the news can be petrifying, freezing us in steps. Our political reality is overwhelming. What good can I do? One person? Where do I begin?

With others, of course, many of whom have been doing this work all along. To survive I have joined advocacy groups and committed myself to one concrete action daily. The truth is I don’t know what I’m doing, where I’m going, or where daily actions of resistance, of social engagement, of activism will lead.

This time, this energy, this draft, will it be worth it? Pema Chodron and others say “Do the work and abandon expectations.” But this feeling of not knowing, of an obscured impenetrable future and our impact on it, is terrible.

So I go back to Rebecca Solnit, “ … you don’t know if your actions are futile … the future is indeed dark, which is the best thing it could be; and that, in the end, we always act in the dark. The effects of your actions may unfold in ways you cannot foresee or even imagine.”
​All right. I abandon myself to not knowing what lies ahead.

​Still I think about this. Where are we going as a nation, as a species, as a planet? And since we cannot do this isolated or alone, to you I want to say, “Join us, bring your art, your talent, your compassion, your energy.”

Because there is no Wonder Woman, there is no Doctor Who. There’s only us.

Let’s get to work.


Désirée Zamorano is a Pushcart prize nominee and an award-winning short story writer as well as the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Amado Women. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Los Angeles Review of Books, PANK and The Toast. She is currently the director of Occidental College’s Community Literacy Center.

Image of Wonder Woman punching Donald Trump by anonymous, via imagur