Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last Day of January

On this, the last day of January, I added the final item to my monthly list of "nice things and accomplishments" that I keep in my little life notebook. Usually I average about 10-12 nice things and accomplishments for each month, 6 or 7 on a skimpy month, as many as 13 or 14 on a lush month. For this past month I had 20. Twenty! A record! They ranged from submitting the abstract for my paper on The Secret Garden for the centennial Secret Garden volume to having the abstract accepted, from revising my chapter book and submitting it a possible agent to having the agent accept it, three courses at CU successfully launched, fun in Texas with Gregory, my magical days at the poetry retreat. The best month ever!

But it was also one of the worst months ever: my mother's terrible fall and injuries, the devastation in Haiti. Both of those are so much more hideous than my 20 little nice things are wonderful. They seem to cancel out all my nice things. I would trade all my 20 nice things in a heartbeat to have prevented my mother's fall. It almost seems frivolous to tally "ALA Notable for Oliver" and "delightful and productive meeting with all five of my SCBWI mentees" in a month that has so much pain and heartache in it for my family and for the world.

Except that we can't think that way. We just can't. It doesn't make the terrible things any less terrible to allow them to obliterate all the little lovely things. In dark times, we need our patches of sunlight more, not less, and to honor and celebrate them. Yes, I would trade all my little nice things right now for my mother's good health, but the fact is that I'm not being offered the chance to make that trade. Refusing to celebrate the nice things won't do ANYTHING to help my mother recover or, for that matter, to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Yes, the terrible things are terrible, but the nice things are still nice. The terrible things in their terribleness exceed the nice things in their niceness, but they don't erase their niceness.

The nice things are still nice.


  1. What an important point you make, Claudia, about celebrating our accomplishments and the sweet things of life in spite of the terrible. For me, separating them also leaves me with more energy to address the "terrible" in the best ways I can.

  2. Thanks for your wise comment, Carol. Yes, we have to get some strength and energy from somewhere - and what better way than by celebrating the sweet things?

  3. I love your blog and I especially loved this post. I think when crappy things happen, people say to focus on the good things. That used to make me mad because I kept thinking that they meant that the good things would outweight the bad. Nope. Just that the good things are still good.