I have learned some important lessons over the past few weeks.
The lessons began with the horror of Newtown, when I started to question where we’ve gone wrong to create a world that is full of so much cruelty, horror, and unspeakable acts. I learned from a childhood friend, neighbor or a child who was lost, who spent the days protecting his neighbor’s and his town from the predatory journalists, armed only with a video camera and a caring heart.
The lessons continued with the passing of my father; the first time in my life that I really had to face the reality of our mortality, and let go of somebody I love.
Then I found myself in Hawaii, spending the holiday’s with my husband’s family. Despite the fact that I’ve spent many holidays with them, there’s always a certain amount of awkwardness in my time here. This year, that feeling was multiplied by the sadness I carried in my heart. I found myself trying to hide from:
- the awkward reactions from people who did not know what to say to someone who just lost her father
- the even more awkward reactions from people who simply didn’t say anything and avoided the topic all together.
- Nathan’s father’s sometimes naive (although I believe unintentional) anti-Semitism
- the overwhelming holiday spirit that I simply did not feel.
- the somewhat hypocritical attitude of people who claim the virtues of living in paradise, but never really take advantage of the place they live in
- a constant clash of cultures
As I’ve been experiencing all this, I slowly began to absorb the lessons that surround me. For example, paradise is only paradise if you take the time to appreciate its beauty.
You can find paradise on an island, but you can also find it everywhere. If you spend all your time complaining about traffic, or focusing on other things like work and money, it doesn’t matter what the sunset looks like or the weather feels like–because you won’t see it.
I’m learning that paradise is actually something you carry with you.
It can be found in the smiles of children, who learn that new friendships can be formed over the joy of hanging upside down.
It can be found in the moments when we stop, relax, and simply enjoy the sun.
It can be found in those moments where we run, dance, and fly.
It can be found spending time with old friends.
Paradise is the place where you stop and realize that the small moments, and the inexpensive pleasures filled with love and laughter are the ones that truly matter. My wish for all in the coming year is that you take a moment to stop and celebrate the life you have.
It’s simply too short not to enjoy with all the passion and love you carry inside.