By Kate Kole
I’ve always loved those images that can be viewed two different ways, like the young girl or old woman. Once you’ve seen one, it’s nearly impossible to recognize the other. And then, just as quickly, the opposite is made clear and it’s hard to go back to your original perception. It seems inconceivable that the two could coexist. And yet somehow, they do.
Life feels like that sometimes.
6 years ago was my wedding rehearsal. I can remember everything about that day in better detail than I can remember what I was doing this Tuesday afternoon.
It was sunny and in the 70s. A sharp contrast to the arctic chill sweeping the country this week. My husband and I drove the hour to our wedding venue, talking excitedly with the kind of anticipation that comes only before a big trip or Christmastime. We were on cloud nine, giddy as we dreamed about everything ahead of us. Unable in that moment to imagine anything aside from the bliss we felt.
This morning we woke up at 2:30 to our toddler crying in his crib. And again at 5:15, this time for the day. With far less enthusiasm than we shared 6 years ago, we shuffled through our routine. Diaper changes, alternating showers, toys put away, breakfast, dishes, a quick kiss, and “have a good day.”
I looked at the gray sky outside and opened my weather app. Too cold for a walk, I thought with disappointment. Pulling my son’s toy bin back out, I settled onto the floor beside him. He tossed a book into my lap and nodded his head. His way of saying, “read now, please.” We read and read again.
I turned Sesame Street on in the background and watched his face light up at the sight of Elmo and Grover on the screen. Instantaneously, I found myself smiling in return. He contentedly placed his head in my lap as he looked ahead, giggling.
Something in my heart shifted. The restless edge I’d been carrying, my emotions matching the gloomy landscape outside, started to lift as I melted into the moment.
I saw the other angle of the image that I’d been missing all morning. And I wondered how often I only see one side. That resentment overrides my ability to give the benefit of the doubt. That impatience keeps me from going with the flow. That disappointment impedes my gratitude. That how I imagine life should be takes away from what life is.
Some days are just plain hard. And other days offer a glimpse into what I’d imagine Heaven is like. Most are somewhere in between, two sides existing within the same spectrum. The frustrating and the fulfilling each competing for my attention. And it’s up to me to decide where to direct my gaze.
Featured image via Unsplash