To me, having it all – if one wants to define it at all – is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up. Like an eclipse. A perfect eclipse is when the moon is at its perigee, the Earth is farthest from the sun, and when the sun is observed near zenith. I have no idea what that means…but one thing is clear: It’s rare.
Personally, I believe having it all can last longer than that. It might be a fleeting moment – drinking a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning when the light is especially bright. It might be a few undisturbed hours with a novel I’m in love with, a three-hour lunch with my best friend, reading Goodnight Moon to a child, watching a Nadal-Federer match. Having it all definitely involves an ability to seize the moment. It’s when all your senses are engaged. It’s when you feel at peace with someone you love. Having it all are moments in life when you suspend judgment. It’s when I attain that elusive thing called peace of mind.
Not particularly American, unquantifiable, unidentifiable, different for everyone, but you know it when you have it.
Delia Ephron‘s new collection of essays, Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.), is a wise, warm, and witty exploration of what’s really important in this 21st century. In her own inimitable Eprhon-istic vernacular, she writes about Life, Love, Family, Dogs and Bakeries. Like her sister Nora, with whom she collaborated on everything from dinner parties to award winning screenplays, Ephron has a distinctive voice that rings in the readers ear. Her writing style is so conversational that reading her words feels like chatting with her while drinking coffee and sharing slivers of a perfect chocolate brownie from Spoon bakery.
I especially loved her take on “having it all,” because, like the Ephron sisters I was raised in that era of the 1970’s when that idea first arose in women’s heads. Marriage, children, and careers were not mutually exclusive entities, we were told. After all, “we are strong, we are invincible, we are women!”
And we have Helen Reddy cheering us on, so what more could we possibly need?
“Our job as writers,” Ephron says, “is to figure out what we can do. Only do what you can do. It’s a rule I live by.” What Ephron does so well is combine humor and poignancy to illuminate the human condition, define the family dynamic, and make us feel a little less alone as we navigate our life in general.