When I contemplate this season, I think of the beauty and burden of  light and its shadow. Sometimes I stand in the pathway of unexpected sorrow, and then, in the next second, a parade of happiness marches through, like an unreliable narrator who takes over the plot even before you understand the story. Navigating the transitions between these two emotions is treacherous terrain since there is little identifiable rhythm.

Recognizing the see-saw of sadness and joy is turning into a place I embrace instead of loathe. My acceptance reveals an undeniable truth: I am present, living all of it. The heartache and the hope.

This past Sunday, tears threatened, as I witnessed an ordinary moment in my life. I drove to the tennis court where my daughter finished practicing her serves. As she exited the gate, she didn’t notice my car hugging the edge of the curb. Instead, her head darted forward and backward and then she paused when her gaze landed on my blue car. Without hesitation she waved and sprinted toward my direction with a smile that brought me to tears. Her exuberance pushed me to acknowledge how fleeting these moments are of a little girl running to her mother. I took a deep breath, a metaphorical holding on and letting go, trying to make peace with my sorrow, but also sinking into the happiness of the moment.

For some time, I struggled with my tilt toward sadness, but now I realize this is what helps me look at the now of every moment. I know that sorrow is just as important as joy. This is the pendulum that guides my life and allows me to embrace both emotions with equanimity. It is, of course, not always easy. As I sink into a happy moment, the back story is humming its lullaby, “What happens when this goodness is over?” This question and my desire to stomp on it before it raises its hand is an ongoing process to remain present. I am not there yet.

With conscious effort, I strive to harness both sadness and happiness. The sadness is on the fringe always, but the joy, an abundance of it is hovering, like a guide leading me through the darkness. When I do experience this joy, I acknowledge it. In some ways I try to bottle it up, like a genie, calling on it in times of restlessness and anxiety.

This season. It is about catching the glimmers of my happiness – like my daughter’s laughter, to the beauty of boredom, to the quiet conversations that I have with myself while reading a book and that carefree feeling I enjoy when listening to my favorite song on the radio full blast while driving down the highway. These blinks are what sustain me and I give these moments greater gravity and feel them as they are happening in a way that was wholly foreign to me in my twenties.

The weaving in and out of sorrow and joy is the tapestry that allows one important opportunity: to be present in this season of my life.