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“Life comes in waves,” my mom used to say regularly. “Sometimes those waves last years.” She was referring to the crests and troughs of life. The ups. The downs.
On the downside, her mantra arose from being an only child who was frequently in trouble. It grew when leaving South Africa with a young family in tow to begin a new life in New Jersey. It strengthened flying between continents to say goodbye to her aging parents. A mid-life divorce nurtured it. So did working outside the home for the first time in many years. The refrain solidified when refusing metastatic breast cancer treatment to live her best life even when that meant fewer days.
On the upside, my mom’s catchphrase expanded when listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, her eyes closed and time stopped. It warmed on walks when pausing mid-step to gape at a flower’s beauty. It thrived from bursting into song in public (much to my chagrin) because she didn’t give a damn. Her unceasing love was the fuel.
In short: it came from perspective.
Suffering is everywhere. Incredibly, the same applies to beauty. That’s the antidote. Seek it and you shall find. “In a world that is filled with pain and loss and sadness and war and trash- actively seek beauty,” says Jennifer Pastiloff, a female empowerment wunderkind, who coined the term “beauty hunting.” Though my mom didn’t invent a viral phrase for her outlook, she was a huntress nonetheless.
What my mom saw so clearly is that pain and joy are twins – forever conjoined. One cannot preclude the other. In fact, each may be a symbiotic experiences meant for the heavy lifting of life. Each allows the other to be felt more strongly and weathered more gently. Pain creates an appreciation for beauty; beauty enables a softening around pain. For all we get is this one beautiful, and sometimes tortuous, life. These are the waves. Up and down we go…over and over again. It’s to be expected.
Thanks mom, Carol Wertheim Boyd (1948-2016)
Robynne Boyd is the Co-Founder of Goodgrief App, the social network for loss. It is now available for less than the cost of a latte in the iOS App Store, Google Play and www.goodgriefapp.com. You can follow Goodgrief App on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.