On being ... not a bonus for all

  By Ingrid Sapona 

I publish On being… on the 15th and 30th of the month. (In February I publish on the 15th and 28th.) Given this schedule, I have an affinity for months with 31 days because I have an extra day to come up with a topic for the following 15th. By this logic, you’d think I’d hate February because from the 15th to the28th is only 13 days. All I can say is that February’s my birth month so I love it regardless of its brevity. 

Actually, the fact that every four years we get a Leap Day is perhaps another reason I love February. As for Leap Day itself, the whole Sadie Hawkins Day stuff has always charmed me. (If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, check out one of the sweetest movies of all time: Leap Year, starring a very young Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.) But even without that blarney, I’ve always thought of the extra day as a quirky celestial bonus. 

So, when I realized this is a Leap Year, the idea of writing about the delights of this bonus day was obvious. But this past week – in part because it marked the start of the third year of war in Ukraine – I began to think about what an extra day in the year might mean to others. On reflection, I realize that the extra day for so many is far from a bonus. Instead, it’s likely an extra day of suffering. 

For the millions of people who live in refugee camps it’s another day of queueing for food, water, and even to use the toilet. For the millions in the world starving, it means another day of empty bellies. For people living in war zones, it means another day of living in fear for their lives and homes. For children in war-torn countries, it means another day without school or trying to have a normal life in a bomb shelter or bunker. For the family members of those fighting on the front line, it means another day of worry and loneliness. For all the war-wounded, it means another day of pain and suffering. For political prisoners it means another day of unjust confinement. For women living under the thumb of theocratic regimes, it means another day of repression. 

These harsh realities gave me great pause about whether to write about Leap Day being a bonus. Trite doesn’t begin to describe my concern… But then I thought about the fact that if these columns are to have any relevance, reference to reflections about what’s going on in the real world is important, even if the thoughts arise in a roundabout way. 

Though the springboard for On being… is my experiences, thoughts, and emotions, I always hope that it will be a catalyst for readers to reflect on how they feel about the particular topic. In this case, regardless of what Leap Day means to you, I hope it provides you with time to reflect on the suffering of others and on what we can do to bring change and help to those suffering. 

© 2024 Ingrid Sapona


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