Looking for the light
Our daughters are 14, 12 and 10 years old. We are long past the point of simply being able to turn off the television and keep them from some realities about the world they live in.
As their mom, I feel a tremendous responsibility to find words to give them, ways to help them process what even adults can't easily process, something to focus on and believe in so they somehow grow up to be people who trust that there is more good than bad in the world.
We talked about the bombings in Boston. Several times they asked me "Why?" Why would someone do that? Why do people want to hurt other people? The fact that I do not know the answer to the one question they have leaves me feeling a little lost as I search for words.
I decided what I would do is tell them what I do know. We talked about the people who ran toward the explosions instead of away from them. The people who helped, who stayed, who put aside their own fears. The heroes, both the ones in uniforms and the ones in their everyday clothes who didn't even know they were about to be heroes.
That day was also my husband's birthday. Our daughters asked me if you can still celebrate when something bad has happened. Yes, I said. Celebrate the good. Every chance you get. Because there is both darkness and light in the world, and when we celebrate, we focus on the light. And what we focus on, we see more of, so, yes, celebrate. That doesn't mean we don't care. It means we look for the light.
I don't want them to think everything in the world is perfect, because of course that is not only untrue, saying it would be a disservice to them. But I do want them to believe that they hold the power to make more light, because they do. We all do. We make light by believing in other people, by encouraging them, by listening, by being brave ourselves so that we show other people by our example.
We make light just by being who we are.
I drove the girls to school and, as they heard on the radio about what had happened, my 12-year-old asked me why there are bad people in the world. Because we had two minutes before I had to let her go and be in the world on her own that day, and because I was all out of my own words, I left the question up to Gandhi, who said that humanity is like the ocean. If a few drops of the ocean are dirty, it doesn't make the ocean dirty.
She smiled and said, "Oh. I like that." Something in the way she said it helped me feel better as I drove away. It is tough to leave them on days like this, when they are trying to figure out where they are in the sea of humanity.
It's a pretty big ocean out there, and my girls are in it. So are all the people I love. And yes, some of the drops are dirty. But most of them are made up of amazing people, out there living their lives and running toward instead of away from.
Today I am looking for the light and trying to shine the light that I have. Some days that is easier than other days, but maybe it is most important on days like today.
Tamara Bailie lives in Riverton with her husband and three daughters. She, her husband and her sister-in-law run a gymnastics training facility for children in Draper. She is also a singer/songwriter and glass-blowing assistant.