This picture is from twilight in the park. We spend a lot of time pushing swings. Sometimes, this repetitive motion becomes a bit… boring. Right now, I cannot appreciate enough how so little effort can allow for such a joyful moment with a child.
I am writing this while watching the news. We have done this every day for the last two weeks, with an increasingly heavy heart. So much, that it seems almost superfluous to write about my daily life, a meaningless issue in the face of all that is going on in this world.
But it’s not meaningless.
It’s really not lost on me that the most painful moments in all that we have been watching are precisely due to the loss of daily normalcy, seemingly meaningless when it’s unfolding, very precious when it ceases to exist: the loss of safety, of home, of childhood, of family and family life, of health, of very basic human needs. I’ve been hanging on dearly onto this notion: that our ordinary life needs to be cherished. We shouldn’t need a war to do that. But as long as it’s a reminder, I feel that honouring these people includes doing as much as possible to appreciate what we have. Of course, this is my personal reaction to all that has been going on, and almost everyone I know has struggled with coming to terms with all we have been getting in the news, and this struggle can take on many forms.
This past week, most of the things I read online were either updates on the war, or on how to help. Among these:
- A new podcast that I added to my feed, and one of the episodes has a few simple tips on dealing with anxiety coming from watching the news.
- I have a journalist acquaintance who also made a podcast episode (in French) on how to help, with an interviewee that is a specialist in humanitarian aid. In this podcast episode, the interviewee talks a lot about the risks of freelance humanitarian aid and recommends donating to trusted charities that have a vast experience in the terrain, starting from emergency response and relief, to the long-term issues related with sustainable accompaniment and reintegration of refugees and rebuilding communities after war.
- To make sure that the charity you are donating to is legitimate and can be trusted, I heard of Charity Navigator. It’s based in the US, but it seems to be a good reference, even for Europeans.
- I discovered the work of World Central Kitchen and found it admirable. Food is very dear to my heart, not only because of how much I enjoy cooking it, but also because it brings comfort and people come together around it. Providing access to cooked food in a humanitarian crises sounds to me like a beautiful act of help and humanity.
To come back to ordinary life, the weekend started off with the last day of training, which was the most practical and interesting. At lunchtime, I ate a veggie hamburger on a bench in Cemitière des Rois and appreciated the silence (not so much the cold wind).
And on Sunday, my first day off after six days of work and training in a row, we made pancakes for breakfast, mixed our bread for the week and then took Toddler to a new park. We enjoyed the sun, played on the swings, slid together very fast on a big slide, and found some sticks on our way home.
Monday I had the day off and, with Toddler in crèche, I used the day to
relax organise a year of paperwork, clean the oven, the microwave, the disastrous cupboards, do the laundry… not exactly relaxing, but satisfying to cross off several items on my lagging to-do list. Being home alone (except for homeworking) is something that has not happened to me in… I can’t even remember!, and probably dating back to before Toddler was born. I had lunch in front of an episode of Succession, and may I recommend my very quick, healthy lunch? It consisted of a few pieces of toasted bread, with avocado smeared on top, and cottage cheese mixed with finely chopped spinach, some drops of lemon juice and pepper. Just perfect.
Someone else in this household is the specialist in relaxing when Toddler is at crèche.
While organising paper, I found a letter I wrote to myself in 2014. Five years later, it was sent to me by the keeper of the letters (it was an individual exercise in a team building weekend at Scouts, back in the time). It had this simple reminder, which is always a good reminder.