Wednesday, March 12, 2008
In 1999 a pop soliloquy by Baz Luhrman was all the rage on the airways. It was called 'Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen), or The Sunscreen Song. The 'song' originated as an essay called 'Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted On The Young', and was published in a newspaper. One haunting line from the essay/song that I have always remembered was:
"Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded."
I thought of this line today, when after school I presented my 9 year old daughter with a snack. Earlier, I had spied an unopened box of Samoa's Girl Scout Cookies. Knowing that they are my daughters favorite - I pulled them out and offered them to my kids when they got home. Usually after school snacks in my house are bananas, carrot sticks, apple slices, and the like. Consequently, when offered a sugary treat over a healthy snack, my daughter was delighted.
The joy and excitement that this girl had over an unexpected favorite cookie was incredible. She jumped up and down, squealed, thanked me profusely, and said, "I was going to tell you that today was kind of a bad day, but now it is the best day ever!"
Watching her revel in the chocolatey chewy goodness, it occurred to me, that I could not remember the last time that I was as excited over anything. I will openly admit that I am a bit of a 'grass is always greener' kind of girl. I would not label myself as a pessimist, but I often think - when THIS happens, THEN life will be better and I will consequently be more satisfied. (While many different factors cause these thoughts, financial desires and body image issues take a front seat in my when/then frame of mind.)
I am well aware that this mode of thinking is not helpful or wise, but it must be ingrained in my psyche - because it frequently happens.
As I observed my daughter I had a dual reaction. I couldn't help but grin at her delight, but I also wistfully thought about the power and beauty of youth. Two Girl Scout Cookies had made the girl's day and changed her attitude. Certainly, I thought, nothing so simple could ever do the same for me.
Through out the afternoon, I thought - how beautiful, how powerful, would it be for life to be so simple?
As an at-home Mom, I worry. About many things: my dirty bathrooms, what I will make for dinner, cleaning the house, getting laundry done, carpool runs, keeping the peace between offspring, homework, neighbors, church work, doing acts of service for my kids and husband. The list goes on, and on, and on.
But I have no quick fix to my worries. I could (and sometimes do) eat two (or more) cookies, which might satisfy my sweet tooth, but I know that once consumed, they will end up on my thighs. And then I will worry about my weight and about going to the gym the next day to make up for exceeding my daily caloric allotment.
And I would tell my self that when I loose 10 pounds, then I will be satisfied.
I reflected on the differences between my daughter's outlook and my own for most of the day - thinking that the ballad set to music by Baz Luhrman was awfully prophetic.
Once the kids were in bed, however, when I had time to clear my head of the business of the day, something occurred to me. I realized that while feeling wistful about not appreciating my own youth, (alright 30 something is not THAT old, but it IS a far cry from 9) my initial reaction to the earlier event was to smile - in fact I had my own brief moment of joy. I had felt content, peaceful, like all was right in my world because for a moment I witnessed my child's delight. And then I let it go to think about all of my worries.
Tonight I finally realized Baz just might be wrong. Surely, my youth has faded, but I am continually privileged to enjoy the power and beauty of the youth of my children - which is one of the most satisfying feelings I could imagine.
Do you know what my epiphany means? Despite all my 'grown-up' worries, something as simple as cookies can make me incredibly happy. And if that is not powerful, I don't know what is.
Unless I eat the cookies. Because Then I will have to worry about the gym.