by NICOLE LACHANCE
Is it alright for me to want to be happy right now? Am I still allowed to celebrate the little things? Is there happiness etiquette in times of war?
What is happening in the world right now is incomprehensible to me. The fact that Russia has invaded Ukraine in this most savage and barbaric way is something that I just can’t process. If I were a computer chip, I would still be turning around in circles. There is no compassion on the part of Russia, no allowance for people to evacuate, despite promises of temporary ceasefires to allow people to get out. As a mother, as a human being, I cannot conceive of the horror of women giving birth in a maternity hospital, trying to bring life into the world, and being bombed. The Ukrainian population is under increasingly devastating attack, and is being deliberately deprived of power, food, and water. I studied international law over twenty years ago, and while I acknowledge that I am very out of date, I’m nevertheless quite certain that Putin’s actions are violating countless international laws.
At times like these, I look to my pro-age women friends for answers. These are the women who are teaching me, without judgment, how to navigate the post-reproductive years of my life. Their response is simple: You can care about the suffering that is taking place in Ukraine, you can feel empathy, and you can mourn their loss, but you must continue to live and to enjoy your own life, as per normal. In other words, you can have a heart, but don’t lose sight of what your own heart needs. Be happy in these moments. We haven’t done anything to cause this suffering. We are not to blame. Rather, we can be part of the solution by having a strong moral compass, and by knowing where to draw the line in the sand.
My American pro-age friend says that adding positivity to the world is helping, and that every small gesture of kindness and support is a hopeful offering.
Yes, there are bad people doing very bad things right now, but she points out that good has power too, and we can supply big good or small good. She assures me that adding three well-loved children to this world is a positive contribution. There is a lot of evil in our world, and there will always be a Putin-type character for the good side to defeat. We have a heart, we have a sense of feeling and empathy, yet at the same time, our lives must keep moving forward in a positive way. In her words, we need to “look for the everyday miracles.”
My Italian pro-age friend takes it one step further. She says that we must dress ourselves in color and be radiant. According to her, the principle of lightness must prevail, as in lightness of spirit. What does she mean by this? The phrase doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of richness or depth, nor does it denote idleness, superficiality, or frivolity. In our case, we choose to ascribe a powerful and restorative meaning to the phrase “a lightness of spirit.” To live with lightness is to experience the world without a trace of heaviness in our soul. The goal is to enjoy what life has to offer with a free and serene spirit, as if one is holding a piece of sunshine within her heart. In other words, if we are exhibiting joy, and expressing lightness of spirit even in times of war, this doesn’t mean that we are soulless, superficial people. Our positive and joyful behavior shouldn’t be criticized because we still need to live.
I welcome the idea of looking for life’s everyday miracles, and from now on I will visualize holding a piece of sunshine inside my heart. We have a heart, we have feelings, yet at the same time, our lives must keep moving forward. For now, I will direct my mind to showing the people around me that I care about them and giving them a piece of my sunshine to hold inside their hearts.