"With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black, cat-shaped holes in the universe."
-- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Thursday, February 23, 2012

360 Degrees of Silver Lining

Today was a very frustrating day.  I knew it would be, and it did not disappoint. 

But I am not going to write about the events of my day.  Because the causes of my frustration do not deserve that attention.  Instead, I want to share my silver lining.

This evening, after margaritas and Tex-Mex food with my amazing husband—after feeling the knots in my shoulders relax with every affirmation and feeling my smile stretch with every chuckle and every shared eye roll—I stopped by HEB for some much needed chocolate before heading home. 

When I stepped out of my car, I was greeted by the most amazing sunset lighting up the sky. 

I don’t often get to enjoy the sunset anymore.  Growing up, our house faced a wide expanse of south-western sky, and except for a few power lines and telephone poles, we had an unobstructed view of many a sunset.  My dad, the family photographer, would glance out the window during dinner and say, “Would you look at that!” and then bolt out the front door, camera in hand, to capture the pinks and purples and oranges of the sun’s descent.  And then he would keep popping up for the next half hour to go charging out the front door to snap more pictures as the colors changed, progressed, evolved across the horizon.

I think I inherited my love of sunsets from him.

But now my house sits in a low point, facing north, not a good location for sunset-watching.  Often if I do get to see a brilliant display, it happens while driving home from work when I have to gaze at the sight peripherally, catching glimpses at stoplights and between buildings.  It’s not the same.

But today, while standing in the HEB parking lot, I found myself staring at a gorgeous sunset. 

What was so dazzling was that it did not just light up the western sky.  The entire horizon, all 360 degrees, was alive with color and playful cloud formations.  Everywhere I turned, I was greeted with bright reds and purples or muted oranges and pinks or faded mauves and streaks of yellow.  It was beautiful.

And it gave me the chance to acknowledge the silver linings in my day.  

Yes, on the whole, today is a day I would not care to repeat.  It was one of selfishness and waste and misspent hours.  But that part of my day ended.  And then I came home to someone I love very much.  And who loves me back.  I laughed.  I ate guacamole.  I bought enough chocolate to last me… well, the weekend at least.  And I saw a stunning 360-degree sunset that appeared in the heavens regardless of what kind of day any of us had. 

These are the things I choose to focus on this evening.  And tomorrow.  And this weekend when I am sitting next to the love of my life finishing off a dark chocolate sea salt bar and feeling wonderful and just a tad sick at the same time.  These are the things that matter.  These are my silver linings.

Tomorrow the frustrations will be back.  New ones will appear, some far greater than I can even imagine.  But I will deal with them.  And I will laugh.  And I will come home to those I love.  And I will treat myself with chocolate.  And I will not let those frustrations bring me down. 


**Photo Locations in order of appearance:  Austin, Texas; Terlingua, Texas; Multnomah Falls, Oregon; Netarts Bay, Oregon, Marathon, Texas

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rejected on Valentine’s Day

Yesterday, I got an interesting piece of mail that made me smile.

It did not arrive in a red envelope.  It did not have any hearts or flowers on it.  And the note inside did not say anything about kisses, chocolates, or hugs. 

It wasn’t a Valentine; it was a rejection letter.

On January 1st, I sent a story to The Sun magazine, and yesterday they politely let me know they did not want it. 

The fact that the story was rejected was not a surprise (although I was a little startled at how quickly they responded).  The fact that it was a form letter was also not a shock (although I did not expect such a friendly and personable form letter, if such a thing is possible).  What amazed me the most was how happy the letter made me feel.

I loved it.  Sincerely.

This letter was a reminder that I have submitted work out there in the world and that some of it, some day, might be published.  It was a reminder that soon I will have a lot more time on my hands to submit a lot more work out there, and I have a journal full of ideas just waiting for their chance.  But most of all, it was a reminder that someone (a real someone, a someone in the publishing industry, a someone at The Sun magazine) read my story.  Who cares if they didn’t accept it?  Who cares, really, if they didn’t even like it?  They read it!  And they never would have if I hadn’t mailed it in.  

And perhaps February the 14th was the perfect day to receive such a note.  One line actually did have a touch of romance to it.  "There's no telling what we'll fall in love with, what we'll let get away."

I love this little rejection letter.  I’m keeping it.  I’m counting it as a Valentine.