Lighten Up is about peeking at life through a new lens and examining the lighter side of things - world events, family and friends, job stress, pet ownership - for relief from the challenges that weigh us down. Even though we don't shy away from the tough stuff here, we value the humor, the joy, and the absurdity of life. Most of all, Lighten Up promises some thought-provoking conversation, a little laughter, and just a pinch of reality thrown in for flavor.
For this semester's Craft Essay component of my MFA in creative nonfiction, I have decided to focus on the role of the Afterwords in memoir. As part of my reading list, I just finished Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz - both the book and the Afterwords. And even though I see no value in comparative pain - what hurts us hurts us, regardless of the pain someone else may be experiencing - I also think that perspective is a great teacher.
Oppressive heat, a couple of challenging coworkers, trouble breathing, a demonic puppy -- my today includes all of these things (most of them, I suspect, are actually because of the oppressive heat). Yet I am free to have these things, and what's more, most of them are within my control, not because I can stop them from happening, but because I can choose to see them for what they are: annoying, upsetting, exhausting ... luxuries.
So here's what I think: A bad day is carrying 200 pounds of metal on one's back all day, every day, as punishment for simply being born. An argument with a coworker? Nuisance.
A bad day is bunking with a roomfull of strangers in a freezing camp while listening to their stomachs growl with starvation. A bland lunch? Bummer that it's bland, blessing that it's lunch.
A bad day is knowing you could die at any moment - and sometimes hoping that the moment is now. A bad mood? A fleeting thing, and nothing that will cost me my life.