I’m in my robe, a soft hug, as I glide downstairs in the last of the dark this morning, letting my son sleep a little too late. I’m the first one up today. I turn on the kettle, walk to the driveway for the paper. For good or ill, I am a devotee of newsprint, and I read the paper as though there will be a test.
The usual stuff. Politics. Crime. Environment. The Arts section ambushes me. A description of a Syrian war documentary. It provides a lesson in effective storytelling: describe one tragedy and you will break more hearts than the most unfathomable, impersonal statistics: A father in a rickety boat tries to save his children from drowning, one-by-one. It’s too much. I close my eyes. I may have to go back to bed.
I turn the page and am saved. There is Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She, as you may know, wrote the now-viral Modern Love essay “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” in light of her waning days “as a person on this planet. Could the story of her life, and her death, have the answers? How can a person live such a loving, generous, gracious, wise, creative life? In a world of war and drowning children, does it make a difference?
Maybe it does. I went online to read more about her. I read that she loved creating so much, she made a short film about 17 things she created, and then invited people to meet her in a Chicago park to make a cool 18th thing together. And they came! I watched the first video, “The Beckoning of Lovely.” She brought people together to make beauty.
But still, in a world that hold so much sorrow, does making all that beauty make a difference? This isn’t a new question. There has always been the duality, tragedy and beauty. Maybe the question is what do you choose to focus on? Amy has said, “Whatever you decide to look for you will find.” So you may as well look for the good. Beckon the lovely.
Love your children for who they are in all of their “ok-ness.” Love yourself for who you are in the same way. How can this make the world better? In this TEDx talk, Amy advises,”Ask not what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go to it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” So, no, I will not solve the Syrian war crisis today, but nor will I retreat to bed. If we try to find what makes us come alive, and go to it, we might add a little more peace to our world. And that will be a good day.