I often speak of the omnipotence of perspective, but lately I find myself really losing it. Quiet reflection is the best antidote, but free time is the scarcest resource for our busy family. It has taken weeks and weeks to get a little time in which to write, and I have been feeling increasingly frustrated and self-pitying.
These past few months have been really tough -- the paralysing melancholy that envelops me each winter has been deepened by sick kids and too many weeks of boring house arrest. I'd stop short of calling it drudgery, but I will admit that this period of my life is the most sedentary, repetitive, and grueling time I have known.
It is so easy, given the immediacy of young children and their myriad requirements, to get bogged down in the small stuff. A sobering sense of the bigger picture is all too easily misplaced when battling unending toddler tantrums, dirty nappies and spewed-on clothes.
The thing about perspective is that it is usually gained through struggle, shock or loss. It is often delivered in a very potent dose, and at the time of receiving such a back-handed slap, it doesn't feel possible to lose the impact of its message. Yet we do.
When our youngest son Remy was born a year ago with Down syndrome and a serious condition requiring a string of surgeries, we received overwhelming help and support. At each hurdle he jumped, I vowed to live generously, lightly, and with gratefulness in my heart. Unfortunately, as Remy has grown and become stronger, that resolution has faded a little, and in the daily grind I have let some valuable insight seep away. Reader, I hang my head.
In a week when the media has carried photographs of unspeakable horror, nobody needs reminding of the dire circumstances under which families are suffering worldwide. When bodies have been cast from the sky and left burning in fields and innocent civilians are being bombed daily, it is absolutely inexcusable to complain about my privileged life. When I think of the remaining parents of those children lost on M17, who would give anything to tend to their babies once more, I feel an overwhelming shame at my petty complaints.
I want to be really clear about this: My message is not to look around you and think, I'm lucky, that person has it worse, because there is always a victim in that negative exercise, and we ought not to summarily judge another's journey. Instead, I implore you to honor the loss, the grief, and the struggle of others around you by being happy and grateful for what you have. Take the very best care of the relationships that are valuable to you -- tend to others patiently, nurture and protect them.
We cannot restore to life the people we lose, nor gain back the precious moments we waste in anger or indecision; they are gone. But when we lose the lesson, we double the tragedy.
Lest we forget.