Thursday, 25 July 2013

Sunshine, Smiles, and Cheerful Words

Being at home has felt a lot like returning, and taking part in a well-loved television show.

The cast is familiar, new faces have been added to the numbers, and the senses are pervaded with familiar sights, smells, and company. The catch is you’re altered, and finding the new role to suit is a difficult task.
The change of focus from taking care of one, to being a part of many, is disconcerting.
 It’s enjoyable, definitely, but I find it also makes it easy to be indolent. 

I’m re-reading the classic Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and find it gives expression to my temperament. Amidst many things, something I particularly love is how accurately it depicts the struggle between high ideology and natural abasement. Over and over again they strive to live up to a golden notion that is continually being tarnished by mistakes, tempers, and trials. At a particular low point the parents are struggling with having “taught one child to meet death without fear, were trying now to teach another to accept life without despondency or distrust”. Not only is it a stark contrast, between attitude towards life and death, but to me shows the importance of facing life with enthusiasm.    

I've come to realize a strange polarization within me which is how I lean towards the optimistic side of things while at the same time being a bit cynical. Yet, I dislike prolonged contact with cynics and fear I could begrudge another’s happiness based solely on their seeming to be so happy.

I do know at least that I don’t handle despondency well and am glad I have the ability to pick myself up even if it is to reach for the unattainable. I figure spreading sunshine is worthwhile even among the gloom, and I’m glad I have my nieces to show me how. I've spent the past week with three of them and the things they say are so matter a fact is makes you wonder why you would dare to question them in the first place. It’s best to catch it in the moment before it fades, but these are the few I remembered of them.

Doing a craft project with the 5yr old she gives me a sticker with a shooting star on it and says “This is so you remember me when you’re far from me”.

Helping a niece fire a water-gun, and testing it to make sure it’s in order, she replies exasperated “It always works; it only doesn't work when it’s broken”.

*Q: “What are you doing?”
A: “I’m going to take a shower.”
Q: “Can I come too?”
A: “… I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
A: “Right. I would get all wet!! I’ll just listen from the door instead.”
A: “Okay.” Double locks the door.
*this wasn't from a niece but a child around their same age.

So it turns out that my new part in the family drama, or comedy of errors, is not very difficult at all. I’m expected to be the same cheerful, over-analytic youngest sister while my older siblings are to adore me (which could use improvement). It turns out that being half-way across the world wasn't very far at all. 

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