Some days I get tangled in my thoughts. My ideas get dark, my obsessions grow large, my assumptions are aplenty. People don’t like me. That friend is mad at me. My husband wishes he had married someone else. I’m a terrible mother. My family wants to disown me. I don’t do enough in a day. My body is betraying me.
Other days I feel peace and gratitude. I see the gifts I have been given in every corner of my life. I am humbled by the possibilities that present themselves. How did I get so lucky? Where and when was I at the crossroads that led me here? How narrow were the windows for the choices that were made? I cling so strongly to this path I am on for it has everything I have asked for. And so very much more.
I awoke one morning after a particularly hairy day the day before to the usual sunshine coming into our bedroom window and noted that the darkness had lifted. After a night of sleep, all of my concerns had gone away. As though darkness had packed its bags in the night and left for good.
Or is it that a spontaneous joy had overtaken me? Like children, we can squeeze all of the juices out of each moment no matter what story lies behind or ahead of us. This is what is remarkable about children. They can go from being incredibly unhappy to whole body giggling within seconds. They can clean the slate that easily. Wash away the black paints and cover them over with brightness.
Every day we wake up and paint a new mural. A new story for the day. Some good things happen. Some bad things happen. Some big. Some small. Some important. Some meaningless. Some background. Some foreground. We respond, react, recreate, reenact, interpret, extrapolate, expand, and exaggerate. We have a story to tell, darnnit, and we’re going to tell it loud!
But what story does a child have when they erupt into whole laughter in an instant? What about when their eyes dance with glee? There is no story there. Is it that their storage spaces are too small for extended versions of their moment? So few years to hold onto, therefore, so little is of importance. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a child cling to darkness quite like an adult can. We attach so much to our stories. Put so much detail into our murals. And we can pay so very much attention to each and every brush stroke in that picture we make.
A child is only starting its painting. We parents can make a difference which colours they use, which stories are told, which parts to focus on. The larger picture won’t come into view for many, many years for most children. Especially those that can exercise the right to live out their childhoods fully.
But as an adult with a mural to talk about, I think I should learn a thing from the perspective of a child. It is pink right now. End of story. There is wind. I am on a chair. He is smiling at me. Sometimes that whole story we tell ourselves isn’t worth hanging onto. Only the tiny detail in front of us matters. At least for right now.
So you had a bad day? The sun will come out tomorrow with a new canvas, a new brush, and new paints. Hang on to the laughter. Its what will heal you in the end. Untangle those dark thoughts. They may not be worth the space you’re giving them.
So you had a bad day? Paint me a new picture please.