David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Tea in my favourite mug that feels that feels like it was made for my hand. Frankincense and wild orange diffusing. Giggly children having fun together for the first time today.
Joy–we can almost taste it.
Yet why does it sometimes seem just out of reach? Like we should be able to touch it...except...it can seem unattainable. Pain descends upon us. Catching us when we’re most vulnerable.
Then…these golden moments of pure joyful bliss.
2015 was quite a journey for me. So much elation, peace, freedom, anxiety, and disappointment all rolled up together.
Some days I woke up with this amazing sense of freedom and gratitude. Others I felt anxiety and fear wash over me, to the point that I could almost taste it.
I remind myself that starting something new, like a business, is never easy. Since I'm taking one of the biggest risks of my life so far, I suppose I'm right on track. Really, the business is doing really well, the learning curve is just so much bigger than I expected.
I’m learning that moments are just moments–neutral, until I assign meaning to them. I have the choice and freedom to see these moments differently, to reframe. I have choice. The joy is always there, I just need to be intentional to find it.
I see joy and happiness as two quite different things. I gave up on the pursuit of happiness a long time ago. Happiness is like a fair weathered friend–there one day, gone at the first sight of conflict or challenge.
Joy is different. Joy is in it for the long haul. Even when it is clouded with my tears, I know Joy is still there. I just need to look a little harder.
As conflicted as I feel to say this, I know that I can never know pure joy if I am not familiar with pain and sorrow. They are connected, two sides of the same coin. I see colours a bit brighter now, because I know sorrow.
When I was in elementary school I was an eccentric kid. The memory of this one particular day is still as fresh in my mind as the day it happened. I was eleven. Often I found myself playing alone during lunchtime. This one particular day I found a little alcove in the back of the school to practice my recorder. I hated the recorder, but it gave me something to do. As I was squeaking out notes to “Under the Sea,” a couple of kids gathered by me laughing and teasing me. Then they threw rocks. A couple more kids came. More rocks. With tears streaming down my face, I kept playing. When there were 10 kids all lined up, I couldn’t take it anymore. As an adult looking back now, I’m not sure why I didn’t run the opposite way, but for some reason I ran towards them. They joined hands and wouldn’t let me pass.
As you can imagine, this was a traumatic experience. It was just one of many difficult moments I’ve experienced in my life.
Now here comes the joy part. On the particularly hard days when I was eleven, I came home and there was a special encouraging note, sitting on the kitchen table in a pretty envelope loaded with stickers. At the time I didn’t know who they were from (it was written by an intuitive and helpful friend of my mom), but they were my lifeline during that time. They spoke of my strength and my gifts. They were filled by these small cards with quotes and Bible verses. I saved them in a little box and would pull them out when I felt particularly sad.
I know now that I am who I am because of all of those moments–the hard ones and the good ones. I have made peace with all of it and I’m grateful. I never take pure connection with people for granted, because I know what disconnection feels like. I see colours I hadn’t seen before.
We can discover joy in the midst of sorrow.
In a way this idea is mind-blowing. We think of joy as being so perfect, shiny, only full of goodness and all that glitters, but the truth is JOY is much rougher around the edges than that.
Joy is like that beloved heirloom passed down from past generations. Spotted with tarnishes, and perhaps a few nicks and scratches. These imperfections actually make it even more beautiful. I know joy because I know pain.
Joy, wisdom and deep compassion come from struggle.
Knowing this makes the hard times a little easier to bear. Holding the good times a little looser, making space for the growth and sadness that will eventually come, helps to stave off resentment.
If I was to sum up the most powerful thing I have learned this year, it's this:
Fear and the unknown brings anxiety. There is a season to just be in the muck and mire. To wade through it, to honour it in a way. We don't learn triumph if we don't stare this beast in the face. Struggle is a teacher, we don't learn if we don't pay attention.
However, staying there for a long time can be destructive.
Discovering meaning in the struggle births life-giving perspectives.
Gratitude is power.
Nullify fear and anxiety with gratitude. I'm not talking about sentimental thankfulness, the kind that rolls easily off our tongue when we're asked what we're thankful for at the Thanksgiving table. I'm talking about a deep, contemplative, sitting by the ocean and thinking about all your answered prayers kind of gratitude.
Gratitude gives rise to joy. It invites joy into our lives.
Practicing gratitude is like leaving a big welcome mat for joy.
Life is simple, and also not simple. Simple truths take years and years to discover.
Finding joy is a practice, a journey.
This is a favourite poem of mine.