It's been harder to write blog entries recently. I find myself avoiding my computers, all three of my barely-functioning ones. It's not because I'm not giving out gold stars, not because I'm not out there every day trying to recognize people's sometimes Herculean efforts. It's not even because of snow days and being busy with all the various and sundry things a mom trying to be a writer has to do. It's because, many days, a gold star doesn't seem nearly enough, not even a powerful puffy glittery one.
Take yesterday. Everyone I talked to seemed to have a tragic tale to tell about themselves or someone close to them, someone who was sick or had died.
"Man," I said when I ran into a friend who was running out quickly, leaving three kids at home with her husband who had just had his tonsils out, "all the gold stars in the world don't seem like they could even make a dent today..."
She smiled. Is it the thought that counts, I wondered? I have given out hundreds of gold stars, enough to know they often brighten someone's moment if not their hour or their day. People have started conversing in local establishments, sharing stories about the stars when they see them. I love that something I have done, that I do, might have the power to bring others together toward something positive. I have not lost faith in the star's ability to shine, to make a small difference in its own way. But, man, sometimes it's a challenge to sing out loud and proud when people are up against so much.
I guess it's really about focusing on the trying part, the pushing through that people have to muster every day in some way. The snow is a good metaphor. It is beautiful, magical in moments. The park was mesmerizing as I hiked around, sometimes up to my knees in thick crunchy powder. I laughed as I tried to hike up mountains where stairs used to be, as I plunged through places where I knew there were once paths. In the far-reaches, along the frozen ponds, it was mostly just me and a few starlings, every once in a while an urban cross-country skier. Icicles clung fast to the trees, little clear buds that glistened in the sun. Amazing. It was so easy to enjoy it at my leisure, nowhere to be for a bit.
Back on the city streets a bit later, hurried mothers back-brakingly braced themselves to push strollers through the same said snow, albeit blackened by dirt and exhaust. It was a different story altogether.
"Enjoying the snow?" I said to one of these mothers, a friend. She just sighed and rolled her eyes as she passed, pushing her young daughter.
"Trying..." she said.
I laughed. It's amazing how many times a day the word is used, how many times a day we think it to ourselves or say it to others. There are so many opportunities in any given day to see the positives, to think of snow as a beautiful and awe-inspiring show instead of something that's a pain in the ass to shovel. No matter how much I might momentarily falter, I always manage to pull out a little ray of hope that someone is going to be o.k., even when they're headed to the hospital. I make that promise to myself to not get cowed by fear, to pull it together despite the many sad stories, because of them in fact. I break out stars even when I'm afraid they are not nearly enough. They are, at the very least, something, right? Sometimes, a little something is all we can do.