3 Things by Elizabeth Thomas, Elizabethgrantthomas.com
My family is currently in the midst of a health crisis, and over the past few weeks I’ve come to understand something in my heart that I previously only grasped in my head: there is light in the dark.
In fact, I would venture to say that it’s easier to see the light against the dark.
I think we humans get into trouble with ourselves and each other whenever we try to reduce things – situations, decisions, relationships – into black and white terms. In the past, I’ve been known to boil circumstances down into “bad times” and “good times.”
But even during what could be considered a very bad time, my two-year-old daughter still has a way of making me laugh by doing or saying something silly every day.
When I take a morning run and feel hot tears running down my cheeks, I look up at the branches overhead, shimmering and rustling in the breeze, and feel a sudden surge of happiness course through me.
Even in our darkest hours, there can be unexpected moments of joy, which don’t negate the darkness; they simply add texture and shades of grey.
My mother was always of the opinion that, at a child’s birthday party, there should be no more guests than the honoree’s age, which is advice that I’ve stuck to.
Although my daughter has only celebrated two birthdays, it’s been my experience that one child equals the energy of at least four adults!
My mother died before I had a baby, so I don’t know for sure, but I think her advice was borne out of a general philosophy that, when it comes to children, doing less generally yields more satisfying experiences for everyone.
I think most of us know this intellectually, but the promise of “just one more” toy/outfit/activity as a means towards filling some gap is so mesmerizing, isn’t it? Somehow I convince myself that this one thing will solve everything, and I am surprised anew every time it doesn’t.
When in doubt about what to do in a given situation, I often think back to my mother’s advice and remind myself that enough really is enough.
A few years ago, a friend told me about The Sun magazine, and I have been a devoted reader ever since.
An ad-free publication that features photography, short stories, interviews, poetry, and essays, it celebrates “the splendor and heartache of being human.” (More of that ethos of light and dark, right?)
Each issue is focused around a subtle theme that explores the complexity of the human experience. I don’t read as many books as I used to, but I find The Sun a perfect companion to early motherhood: it’s ideal for reading in short bursts, but is packed with so much humanity and depth that I often feel as if I’ve read a book when I’ve finished an issue.
It always gives me a lot to chew on (and, when I go out to dinner with my husband, gives us something to talk about other than our daughter). My long-shot writing dream is to someday have an essay published in The Sun.