My granddaughter Calliope turned five yesterday, which was a huge deal for her. It had taken her her whole life to get there, and you could feel the excitement building throughout June (“my birthday month!”). At my age birthdays have a more bittersweet taste, reminders of how quickly the numbers have added up. It seems but a moment since Callie was born, and I wonder much of this extraordinary child’s life I will get to watch unfold. As we seek simultaneously to shield our children from the dangers of the world and to expose them to life’s wonders, we overlook at times how connected the two are. As I grow older I become increasingly aware of how little power I have to change the world; but I do have the choice of how I experience it. I can focus, as I often do, on a world hurtling toward catastrophe – a world of global warming and ISIS, of desperate migrants and mass murders and depleted aquifers. I can also focus on a world of possibility – of human ingenuity and natural beauty, of small kindnesses and enduring friendships, a world in which my granddaughter’s uncontrollable tears turn suddenly to bright laughter.
I believe that Calliope knows plenty about the sadness and capriciousness of life, but she wakes up each morning alive to its sparkle. And while it may not come as naturally any more, so can I. Because before we can solve the world’s problems, we must embrace life’s possibilities.
I won’t be posting next week, as I won't have access to the Internet.