This is the Post-Election Meditation, designed to help you fall into a deep and untroubled sleep. You’ve waited four, long, sleepless years. You haven’t slept more than a two-hour stretch since Monday night. On Thursday, you hallucinated that Steve Kornacki was lurking in your closet with Nate Silver’s snake, whispering the words “Maricopa County” to Rudy Giuliani’s porn laptop. On Friday, you mistook dry yeast for demerara sugar and poured a packet of it into your coffee, sobbed for eleven minutes, and then drank it anyway.

But that’s all finished. It’s over. Shhh.

Now you will experience a gentle, soothing sleep, your mind clear of all anxiety, tension, and fear of a deranged man starting a war with North Korea because Debra Messing didn’t call him “Sir.”

Close your eyes. Inhale slowly… and exhale, feeling the distress leave your body with each exhalation. Imagine that you’re walking into the woods, the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind, a woodpecker rap rap rapping in a distant tree, the sunlight dappling through the branches, a squirrel scampering up the trunk of an oak tree. “Seriously, what the hell is wrong with Americans?” the squirrel asks.

You hurry away, moving towards a widening path that leads to an opening beyond the trees. “But her emails!” taunts the squirrel behind you.

Beyond the edge of the woods, you come to a sleepy meadow with a dozen placid grazing cows and a pair of nickering horses. There is no past or future in this meadow, just the present moment of peace, tranquility, and total well-being. And a lone red baseball hat with four all-cap white words printed on it slumped atop a cow chip.

The smell of the dung becomes stronger, and you move with the breeze away from the stench along a path skirting the meadow. The path continues up a gentle slope, winding its way between brambles and sweetly fragrant currant bushes. Up, you climb away from all the stresses and unease and trauma until you reach an elevated plateau. The plateau is covered in mist. A soft rain begins to fall, washing away all the dust and the dirt and the taint.

“Nah,” says the woodland squirrel, who has followed you. “A little rain isn’t going to clean up this mess. That’s not the way any of this works.”

“Leave me alone. I need to sleep.”

“You think you can make a deal with the devil and then walk away as if it never happened? You can’t treat a Faustian bargain like it was just some happenstance oopsie, pal. You think the root causes of this shitshow are gonna dissolve like glaciers in a world run by flat-earth conservative men who think protective masks make them look gay?”

“Let me be,” you say. “I’ve called my senators so many times these last few years that the receptionist just invited me into her hygge pod. I’ve protested and written postcards and phone-banked and text-banked and donated and watched Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kill Poki on Twitch in a video game that looked like what happens if Pac-Man mated with a magenta postbox. I’ve cried and screamed and agonized and worried and feared and despaired and dreaded and mourned because of this walking asbestos pustule and all his crusty, corrupt enablers. I’m so tired. Help me.”

“Alright,” says Squirrel. “Follow me.”

You trail after the squirrel, descending a stone stairwell. The more you descend, the deeper the relaxation. Down down down, two hundred and forty-four steps, the tension leaving your body with each effortless movement. You begin to feel your muscles softening. The tightness in your brow releases. The strain in your jaw slackens into jelly as your breaths become steady and deep. At the bottom of the stairwell, you emerge onto a cove facing a serene beach. The clouds above you part and the sun shines, its rays warming your face and skin and bones. A large bird soars majestically across the sky. Nestled on the other side of the cove, against the rocks, you see a soft, downy bed. You walk towards it. It’s made up with clean, white sheets. You lay down on the bed and feel your body release all its weight so that you’re no longer carrying anything at all and are free to completely let go. The waves lap against the rocks, the rhythms lulling you into a drowsy state of stillness, and the thoughts come all at once in a raging torrent, just like they’ve done for the last four years.

What if he contests the election for weeks and months and years? What of the stolen SCOTUS hands him the election? What if the white supremacists start their race war? What if QAnon tells its followers that satanic pedophiles are controlling all the Cinnabons and they finally snap? What if Don. Jr. wins the 2024 nomination? What if it’s too late?

“You’re not out of the woods yet!” says Squirrel. “Bwahahahahahaha. I’ll see myself out.”

You open your eyes. The soaring bird is a bald eagle. It swoops down and clutches the squirrel in its talons.

“E pluribus something something,” Squirrel says as it’s carried away. “Sleep tight!”

And finally, you fall asleep.