In the heaviness of life, there exists a lightness– and this lightness might be the secret to joy.
Snapshots of Lightness
We have make-shift weather experiments all over our house because Cohen read a children’s almanac that said George Washington was interested in meteorology when he was a kid. A cup is collecting rain in the driveway, a straw with a hunk of play-doh at the end has become a make-shift barometer, and notecards with ten-day forecasts are scattered across our kitchen countertops.****Tonight at dinner Jacob and I were talking about the 1960s and hippie protests and Vietnam; ten minutes into our conversation Ellie waves one hand wildly in the air (the other hand clamped on her mouth– a strategy learned in pre-school) and asks “What are dippies?” ****Cohen organized a mock-election for president of the “house” and we all had to write our “platforms” down on notecards and Sophie’s said “I promise to get Ellie’s shirt down for her on Mondays.” ***Mae and Everett knocked multiple decks of cards off a bookshelf, and they held the cards up to me like they were precious gems, like they were sparkling jewels spilling through their chubby miner’s hands. They said”ahh” with their mouths and “look here!” with their eyes and I left the piled treasure on the floor in fear I would forget the cards’ secret value.
Do you ever feel happy, but feel like you’re not allowed to tell anyone? That by seeing the “lightness” of life you are somehow denying its inherent pain? I feel that if I were to speak in the way I write, at best, I’m ignorant, at worst, a liar. I somehow feel as if acknowledging my happiness would make me naive, false, incomplete.
But ignoring the joy that comes from seeing the lightness is like a starving person watching another person who has access to food choose to be starving. My not eating isn’t saving them, it is starving all of us. I’m sitting there, staring at a feast, and choosing not to eat because someone else can’t eat. Which means we are all STARVING, sitting there staring at the thing that can save us.
Never apologize for proclaiming to see what is right before your eyes. If I cannot own the joy that is before me, how can I ever expect to bring joy to others? We don’t share happiness to prove that we’re superior, we share our own joy to affirm that joy can be found for all.
So this is what I see: If you are ALIVE you are now HOLDING what will one day be no more. Even with your own kids grown, or no kids at all, you look up and you see the light of a star which at that very same moment– that light-hits-retinas-moment– might also be dust.
After school– papers scattered, babies unhooked from carseats, vanilla ice cream scooped into bowls for hungry kids. I’m seven different places, deciding whether we should thaw the shrimp or call for a pizza, staring at the lawn that has turned into a jungle, taking Sophie’s temperature and making sure Mae doesn’t plummet out of a rocking chair. Cohen asks us to read Scholastic News with him, and I almost want to laugh at the impracticality of it (it’s not even homework!) but I don’t, because he’s sitting there at the kitchen table, marveling at the length of whale sharks, and Everett has stopped crying because he’s found a basket of napkins to dump out, and Jacob has volunteered to read the final paragraph from an article entitled “The Tooth Mystery.”
“This story shows that you can find treasures anywhere” he reads, “even hidden in a pile of rocks. So explore and keep your eyes open. Who knows what you’ll find!”