One day about a year ago, Henry and I were driving in the car together. He was four at the time. And he said something that hit me right in the gut and reminded me of the wisdom of kids.
“When you look straight ahead, you see difficult things.”
After he said it, I went kind of quiet for a minute and then asked him what he meant. Because, to me, there was a lot to unpack in that little sentence.
He explained that when he was looking forward he couldn’t exactly see what was ahead. Because there was a glare on the windshield and his view was partially blocked by the seat in front of him.
But if he looked around a little bit, or looked to the side, then he could see just fine. He had been trying to look out at the trees ahead. And he realized that if he waited a bit, then he’d be able to see them perfectly out the side windows as we passed by.
At the time, I wrote it down in the book that I use to record all of our kid’s quotes. But unlike lots of the other things they say, this one stuck in my head. It pops up for me from time to time.
And recently, it makes more sense than ever.
We’ve been sheltered in place for over four weeks now. The world is turned upside down as we all try to fight the coronavirus, educate our children at home, somehow find time to work, and maintain our own mental health.
When you look straight ahead, you see difficult things.
If I read too many news articles, I feel near tears. When I look at the calendar and see nothing for the forseeable future, I start to crumble. And when I think of the toll that this virus has already had on our world, it all feels too heavy.
But. When I look around, it’s less difficult.
I look away from the news to see my kids playing, happy, safe, learning to thrive with less. We have logged weeks of deep family connection, which is priceless. I look away from my calendar and see the ways in which our neighbors have created a network of support and love, even at a distance. We are surrounded by good people. I look away from the horrifying statistics to see that the sun is still shining, the leaves are growing on the trees, there are still books and films and art and music and people on bikes and chalk drawings on the ground.
Looking around makes the things that are ahead feel less difficult.
There is so much uncertainty, and grief, and loss. And those things are real. And sitting with them is necessary and difficult.
But that piece of wisdom from my son always reminds me to also look around. And that the good can exist together with the difficult.
Hoping you are well, and taking care of yourself and the people that you love in all the ways that are the most important for you. xoxo