There was one time in my past when life was lived at such opposite extremes I could hardly make sense of the experience. It happened in the months after we brought our identical twin girls home. We were new parents. We lived away from both of our families. It was winter. I was recovering from a caesarean while also learning to care for two babies. I was depleted to a degree beyond description. There was a lot of crying in those days, for all of us. After a short time of living this way, I looked ahead at the months stretching before me of this tired round of meeting need after need, and I couldn't imagine how I would ever survive it.
And yet -- the opposite was every bit as true at the same time. Every coo and squeak and startle was a marvel. Fleeting smiles in sleep. Four of the tiniest, wrinkly feet. Little glimpses of their dark newborn eyes. Even their crying sounded like song to me. While on one hand, I couldn't understand how we were even managing the days, on the other, I didn't care that my world was reduced to my living room because -- ache! -- here were these two beautiful babies! And what else was that old life even for again?
That's strangely been in the back of my mind this week as life as we know it has come to an abrupt halt. The new reality has been anxiety-ridden and heart-breaking. The wakeful nights. The obsession with news. The worry at any sign of sickness. The stir-craziness. The suspension of the comforts of structure and routine. The question, looking out over the months ahead, of when--and how--this will end. And the painful knowledge that it will get worse before it gets better.
But that's only half the story. The other half has been a generous and surreal gift of time to simply be. We've done a puzzle. Played games. Watched movies together. Doodled. Read books. Written letters to friends in the same boat. And I'm learning as the days tick by what new rhythms are feeling right. There's a peacefulness about this time that I think is a direct result of the scariness of it. It's that old theory of the unity of opposites -- that two things that on the surface seem to be antithetical are actually necessarily connected. One cannot be known without the other. Cold cannot be understood without hot. The highest heights of joy cannot be known without the lowest lows of despair. The experience of deep human connection cannot be felt without a keen understanding of the possible loss of it.
And so I am making peace with this new existence. I'm trying to lay questions to rest and settle down and in. Focusing on simple joys: a book, a candle, a bath. A walk. Freshly baked bread. A made bed. The chance to hold my people tight, two of whom taught me everything I know about patience.
How's the world inside of your living room? Tell me everything.