Focusing on Joy

With so much to fret and worry about these days, it’s easy to overlook the small moments of joy in our life. They are fleeting, while the virus, the state of our country and the world, and for us in California the wild fires and poor air quality all persist. In fact, no matter how hard my friends and I try, we can’t steer our conversations clear of these topics. The other night, enjoying an outdoor, socially-distant dinner with friends, we had to remind ourselves several times to shift to other and lighter topics. Somehow, the stress of Covid and the fires kept creeping back in.

But Stephen and I do have good news, and we are joyful and celebrating, despite all the negativity swirling about these days: Stephen’s daughter, Amelia, is pregnant with identical twins! Of course, we’d be thrilled if she were pregnant with only one baby. But two! With only three or four identical twins per 1,000 pregnancies worldwide, those two tiny babies growing in Amelia’s womb feel like a miracle.

Of course, we could worry. Easily. Carrying twins comes with risks. Twins are expensive. Amelia’s babies will be born during Covid.

But it was easy to decide not to. Hearing the news, which took us completely by surprise, we felt overjoyed. Twins! Two babies at the same time! Two identical babies to hold and love!

Suddenly, the darkness of Covid was infused with light. And the more we gazed at the light, the brighter and larger it grew. In the last six months, we have come to expect bad news. And we have all struggled to find strategies for coping. Many of us have learned to acknowledge the news, then turn our attention away, to something else, something less dark, in order not to feed our desperation. Some of us have had a harder time achieving this distraction than others.

But now Stephen and I have something we want to pay attention to. And whenever competition arises to lure us back to the dark side, we bat it away, and let the brilliant twin light back in. Two babies. We have something to look forward to. Something thrilling and unexpected. And whenever it feels more difficult to bat our worries away, I think of the first sonogram, with its two tiny, identical beans floating in Amelia’s placenta.

No matter when, Amelia’s news would have triggered joy in Stephen and me. But during normal times, we might well have been distracted—by the incidents and pleasures of ordinary life. Sure, whenever the thought of twins popped into our minds, we would have felt a spark, but then our attention would have turned elsewhere, to our next appointment, our next errand, our next obligation.

But these are not ordinary times. Our life is less full of busyness than ever before. So the news of twins in the family remains in the forefront of our consciousness, emitting a beam of happiness throughout our days.

Berkeley Sidewalk


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