What Sunsets and Family Dinners Have in Common

How taking ownership of small moments in quarantine can bring true joy.

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Sebastien Gabriel / Unsplash
Sebastien Gabriel / Unsplash

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During quarantine, my mom has started every dinner by asking my brother, Luke, and me, “What’s been the favorite part of your day?”

Some sort of dinner question like this has been a tradition of ours at family dinners for as long as I can remember. In middle school up through parts of high school, “Two Truths and a Lie,” was a family favorite. We’d think through our day and tell each other three things. Two which were true (but might seem false) and one which was false, but seemed true.

This would, of course, inevitably spiral into either laughter, my brother and I fighting about some particular topic, or my mom telling us about our family obligations three months from now. But this was our family.

Now I’m back from college in an environment that certainly feels like home (because it is), but it’s an environment that I haven’t really thought about in three years. Since being at U-M, though family was at the back of my mind, my focus wasn’t there. My focus was on clubs, my friends, my personal relationships, personal development, and my career. But every day, now, I’m being reminded of the memories we’ve had: my brother’s weird obsession with toast, playing Star Wars Chess, my mom sharing the “memes” her friends share with her on Facebook. And I’m also reminded of how beautiful of a family I really have.

And so, quarantine has brought me home in a very literal and also nostalgic way. The past is past, certainly, but it doesn’t have to be forgotten. Moreover, quarantine will be the “past” quicker than we know it. How many other times will I have in my life to live with my mom and my brother in my small town in Michigan? Maybe zero times.

I think what I’m learning, more and more, is that though quarantine has changed each of our lives drastically, this time that we have our families, our partners, or ourselves right now, won’t be coming back any time soon after this is over. And, as Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

This resonates with me. I want to put it into practice by thinking about these special moments with family as if they were sunsets… Moments that happen every day, no matter what. Sometimes you’re too busy to see it. Sometimes the sun is stuck behind clouds. But sometimes, when the time is right, brilliant beams of light pours into your house through the windows until it’s cloaked in bright burnt orange. The sun dropping behind the faraway trees, but reflecting its light in a brilliant spectrum of color across the clouds.

When I notice them, that is what those moments with family feel like to me. And no matter what, the sun always sets. Finding time to watch it will be my quarantine project.

To end this, I want to share one of my favorite quotes by Roald Dahl:

Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Originally published at Medium.

More Thrive Global on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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