I often forget that people are good. That sounds bad, doesn't it?
Well, I do. I know that plenty of people are good people - whatever that means - but as a writer and thinker and New Yorker, I tend to see the layers we wear, all of us. Layers of regret and envy and fear and lust and sadness and greed and cowardice. I tend to see the flaws, exquisitely evident on sleeves and souls. I tend to see the bitterness brewed over years of battle.
I tend to see the glorious gray that tints human skin. I tend to see the wrinkles that life leaves.
I tend to see creases. Cracks. Complexity.
And this is good. Sometimes. It is good because the layers are so much of who we are, the cloaks we don to hide clues to what matters. It is good because, at bottom, existence is murky and often wonderfully so and to pretend that our days are full of rainbows and smiles is in some important sense delusional, irresponsible, inaccurate.
But. Some things in this world are simple. Pure. Unmarred. Some things defy psychic scribble and metaphysical mud. Some things glow despite it all, maybe even because of it all. Some things are gold to the core. Happy.
I was reminded of this just yesterday. More than once.
In the morning, I wrote words. I told friends and family and benevolent strangers that I am pregnant. I admitted that I felt shaky and scared. Because I do. And I was bombarded with kindness, sprinkled with congratulatory cyber-confetti. I was swaddled in sweetness, in sentiment, my cynicism washed away with words. Simple words. Stunning words.
I am so happy for you.
Take care of yourself.
The joy was infectious, burrowing into me, my veins, my heart, my head. My smile, unwavering, was evidence of instant evolution. I remembered two things:
People are good. Some things are simple.
And when the time came, I took Toddler to her first day of school. At the door to her classroom, I stood. I watched as she scampered in and settled among teachers and toys. I wanted more than anything to go with her, to hold her hand. But she didn't need me. And the door closed, leaving me with an image of her three-year-old confidence in the form of a smile. Alone, I walked a few blocks. I bought a coffee. Iced and decaf this time. I studied the sky, blue and beaming. I smiled.
When I picked her up from her first day, Toddler was giddy. She told me she had the best time. "I didn't even cry!" she proclaimed. I lifted her up, my big girl pressed against my tiny belly, and twirled her around. A moment of stark celebration. In her ear, I whispered, "I am so so proud of you." Because I am. And, shrouded in September sunshine, we walked, hand-in-hand, along city blocks. We went to a place Mom used to take me after school. McDonald's. We found a table for two. She dug into her Happy Meal, playing with her toy, stealing lone fries. And she shared her nuggets with me. We each had two. We talked. About her day. About our life. Our sentences were simple of course. The best kind.
Blocks from home, we veered into a small shop. I ordered an ice cream cone. Vanilla with sprinkles. Rainbow. I gave it to her. In her tiny hands, she clutched it. We walked slowly, with purpose. Toward our home, our haven. When things got too drippy, she handed her cone over and I fixed it, licking away the excess, savoring vanilla and sprinkles and love. I looked down at her, my creature, my first, and I said to myself in words strong and sudden: She is a good kid.
Yesterday? It was a day without gray.
People are good. Some things are simple.
Thank you all for your words, for reminding me of human goodness, for making me realize that there are things in this world which are compelling without complexity. Thank you for taking time, precious time, from your own busy lives, to celebrate the latest development in mine. It means far more than you know.
Thank you, Toddler, for being such a graceful and goofy little girl. Your blue eyes are bottomless with promise and my pride is literally endless. I love you.
- Do you tend to see the complexity in things, in people, in places? Do you think this is a good thing?
- Do you ever forget about human goodness?
- Do you think that professional lens informs existential outlook, that I tend to see grays because I write grays?
- Thank you, guys. Again. These next six months are going to be even more wonderful because you are along for the ride. Seriously.