Undercurrent Masthead

What hope looks like

Emma Grey

“It’s the range of emotions that truly makes our lives. The burst of happiness was more beautiful beside the pain. The sunset is always more exquisite with clouds.”

A memory popped up on Facebook the other day of a conversation I’d had with my little boy about a year ago, only about three weeks after his dad had died. We’d been talking about how sad we were, and I’d explained to him that it was normal for us to feel that sad then, but we wouldn’t always feel that deeply upset. One day, even though we couldn’t imagine how, we’d feel happy again. We’d be able to think about Daddy happily, too.

I remember saying those words and not actually believing them at the time. I’d never experienced grief up that close, and had no evidence that things would get easier or that the sun would shine in our lives again. It was pure faith—100% hope.

Things actually got a whole lot sadder, and a lot more difficult and stressful and overwhelming over the months that followed, but we dug our way to the surface again. When we looked around, we weren’t where we’d started, everything looked different and we had to get used to being here.

Yesterday, we took the girls who are playing lead roles in our upcoming musical adaptation of my novel, Unrequited, on a road trip to Sydney, so they could have a rehearsal with the composer, Sally Whitwell. There was a moment during the day when everything seemed to fall into place. People realised where their parts fit alongside the others. It was like a light had switched on.

So many times, we’re operating not out of certainty but out of faith, or hope, that the big picture will become clearer. We’re in a bad place and want desperately to get out of it. We’re at the start of something huge and feeling overwhelmed. It can be easy to want to give up. Sometimes the mountain seems too high.

On the drive home from Sydney, my daughter and I were singing in the car, the sun was setting, the heater was cosy and we’d had a great time with friends. For a fleeting few seconds, I felt the very thing I’d promised my son we’d feel a year ago, even when I didn’t believe it. Happiness.

This came in the same week as a conversation with a friend about feeling quite low, and wondering whether there was some depression mixed in with the grief, or if that was normal. It’s the range of emotions that truly makes our lives. The burst of happiness was more beautiful beside the pain. The sunset is always more exquisite with clouds.

Audrey Thomas and I are working on our idea for a sequel to I Don’t Have Time. We’re tentatively calling the book, I Can’t Be Bothered. Sometimes our motivation is lost because we’re doing too much and we’re tired. Sometimes it’s that we’re doing too many of the ‘wrong’ things, or focuses in the areas that drag us instead of lift. Other times, it’s that we’re not doing enough of the ‘right’ things (sometimes we’ve lost touch with what the best things for us are). Even in the busiest lives, or the saddest or most overwhelming, there is room to turn up the light, and that’s what we’re exploring in this new work. We’re looking for ways to be ‘self rescuing’ when the mojo is flagging.

And we’re excited to say we’re taking all of this ‘on the road’ in the form of our new 4-hour, I Don’t Have Time workshop. We’d absolutely love to see you there, particularly if you ‘don’t have time’ or ‘can’t be bothered’. 😉


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

  • Very exciting sequel Emma! And yes, always room to turn up the light.

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