Dissonance

One good thing a day — take joy in at least one thing a day — is my new mantra.

Swimming or drinking coffee. A colleague moved a rock in her garden — how happy that made me. Spying foxes down in the woods. My daughter’s pleasure in making bracelets. A giant swan floatie my daughters bought while I was at work one day.

I’m not hoarding; I simply note that one thing. The odd thing is, once I note that, I find endless amounts of good things — the Sweet William in my garden, laughing on the phone as I ask a librarian to put out a book for me, please, and then calling through the (closed) library’s door — thank you!

None of this alleviates or alters the world — that I live in a state of incredible wealth where thousands of people have lined up in their cars for eight hours to receive a box of free food. The future is utterly obscured — from a national level literally igniting, to a personal level, where so many people’s lives around me are in upheaval.

This summer, as my daughter steps happily into the driver’s seat, I sit beside her, cautioning — slow down for this intersection. Don’t expect others to turn their turn signals. Be wary of children on sidewalks.

The truth is, I resist this stage of parenting, of giving her the physical keys to head into that vast and confusing world. Yet, it’s her world, too.

So, I identify those good things, like stones in a turbulent river, as we undertake a crossing.

Dissonance
(if you are interested)
leads to discovery.

— William Carlos Williams

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

12 comments

  1. We share highlights and lowlights of our day at the dinner table each night. I’ve noticed a shift lately where we are each noticing the smallest good things and using them as our highlights. I think it’s important during this messy time. ❤

  2. Reminds me of the Kurt Vonnegut anecdote about his Uncle Alex, who always made an effort to notice the little happy moments.

  3. “That stage of parenting” is bittersweet, for sure. Your daughters’ giant swan floatie reminds me of a giant Barbie-pink clamshell float my youngest daughter- who is now 30! – bought when she was in middle school. It was utterly ridiculous, but brought her much pleasure. Also, that water in the photo of the girls swimming looks absolutely delicious on this muggy warm day.

    1. I love the vision of a giant clamshell! These silly things — maybe not so little — are so important. We had a giant slice of pizza as a floatie for years. It was greatly beloved. I’d so love to be swimming right now!

  4. Interesting article. Likewise, I’m worried about the long-term ramifications of a world where fewer and fewer read, thoughts encapsulated into tiny blurbs or tweets. Certainly, on the national level, this is playing out disastrously. I’ve had a copy of The Gutenberg Elegies kicking around. I’ll have to read this.

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