who are you,little i
Recently on the way to work, Beans and I listened to the Lascaux Paintings & Taco Bell Breakfast Menu episode of John Green's The Anthropocene Reviewed. Here's where I admit to being not a huge John Green fangirl, but in general I leave him in the "mostly fine, whatever" category and I do really like the podcast. In any case, the episode corresponded to the Art & Creativity episode of The Parent Rap in nice ways, and I was in particular hit hard by the idea of the work that wonder requires. In another conversation, the idea of religious hope as the "opiate of the masses" came up, to which my response was: hope (religious or not) isn't soothing. Hope is fire. It burns down walls. It is not something that does or should come easy.
As a non-religious-but-religious-adjacent writer, I get tied up in the "good vibes only" crowd sometimes, and it's challenging for me to decide how to respond to that attitude. Life isn't good vibes only, and pretending it is makes the hard stuff harder. Acknowledging what's hard is the first step in making it easier, both for ourselves and for the people around us. If there is a pinterest platitude I do support, it's "take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space," which I think means a lot more. It means it's ok to have "third person problems," where a challenge is more than a friend or partner can support you in, so you get more help. It means you're responsible not for getting rid of the problem, not for keeping the vibes good no matter what's going on in your heart, but for recognizing when it's too much to handle alone. The work of hope, of wonder, and of "good vibes" is in building and creating spaces where the support exists to make sure you're not just silencing the problems rather than addressing them.
Later in the same week, our whole household and a significant number of people from work/daycare got knocked out with norovirus. It hit Beans first, then I had a really rough day and a half of it, and then G had a milder case. It was rough. It subsumed five days of our lives in mess and cleanup and trying to push through. It was hard. I had moments of feeling like I wasn't sure we were ever going to get through it, of feeling like there was no possible way out. And then it was over, and we rested, and Beans cuddled up on my chest and we watched movies: Ferdinand, Coco, a bunch of RomComs. The kind of days my friends and I remember with our moms, and I wonder if she'll remember this. I wonder if I have made space for her to recover, to rebuild herself as someone who has, for the first time, gotten through something really hard and scary with her family beside her. I wonder if I have taught her a little bit of how to do the work that hope requires; to fuel ourselves a little bit when things are hard. And that sometimes, accomplishing that work means resting. That sometimes, the work and the rest are all tied up in the same stuff.
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