Tag Archives: Joy

No Need to Seek Joy

These last few days I have been seeking joy, as if it were a limited experience, a one-time offering. I’ve given it all kinds of attention without opening myself to the actual experience.

Why is that?

Truly, because I am unable to imagine joy. I am facing a moment of loss; I want to hold onto what is no longer. I am not yet ready to let the dam burst. Letting go is its own moment, and I find no joy in it.

Pema Chödrön tells me that joy is trusting my “fresh, unbiased nature.” In other words, work with the reality I have.

At the beginning joy is just a feeling

that our own situation is workable.

We stop looking for a

more suitable place to be.

(The Places That Scare You, Pema Chödrön, 2009)

Joy washes clean my current slate; I weave the loss into every fiber of my being. There is so much love, so much gratitude, and yes, joy. I discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.

It takes guts, Pema Chödrön says–“rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite”–it takes tears, too.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

No Joy without Tears

In a moment of joy, I am one with the wonder of being alive. Everything in my being fills up and spills over, including my tear ducts. It is an intimate moment, this experience. I am nowhere but present.

Brene Brown says that “joy, collected over time, fuels resilience.” Exactly.

Joy is a new life lens through which to view familiar worldly woes—as well as new ones–and not look away. Resistance to impermanence is a fool’s errand–that I have learned–yet, resistance is like a leitmotif to resilience.

Mine is to resist— and if possible stop–actions that add to pain and suffering anywhere to anyone. It is a peaceful practice, this resistance, for it is learning through joy rather than struggle. Sarah Ban Breathnach urges: “declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.”

Certainly, I cannot claim eagerness at all times. Like my energy, it sags. Yet, it is in the lowest of the low moments when joy appears most resilient, buoy-like even. It is more than enough, this joy, and my tears spill over as my heart opens.

I cannot imagine joy without tears.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Its Own Kind of Joy

Often, I write of looking through the life lens of chronic illness. It is the experience I have, the reality I know. Sometimes, it breaks me open, and that is not a bad thing.

Letting go of what is already slipping away

is how we actually enjoy our life

Lewis Richmond 

“Enjoying life” may not seem an apt phrase when writing of chronic illness but in release there is relief. And that is its own kind of joy.

Zen teaches me that peace is available in every moment. It is up to me to settle into the series of signals I know as pain. Through meditation and yoga, curiosity edges out fear.compassion-102016

These low-energy days of a single spark are more productive than not. There is rest in this reflection. In stillness, the body softens, rather than struggling to satisfy.

There is no loss in what slips away on days such as these. It was never mine to keep, just to experience. I am given a new life lens. It, too, is its own kind of joy.

I no longer sip from a half-full glass or even become a lake. Mine is to become the oceans, to be ever at sea, stopping only by land when I have the legs for it.

And someday to be free of land and sea.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Leaving the Ground

Most of the time our footsteps are one in front of the other but there are times we leave our grounded self to go walking in the air.

These are chance moments, risky, but why not go out of the ordinary.

We “float in the midnight sky,” gliding over this life that is ours. We imagine shiny and new, we re-wrap.

Walking in the air is “taking the world by surprise” as well as ourselves.

We open our arms to joy.

It only takes a moment to leave the ground.

“Walking in the Air” is a holiday favorite of mine. Howard Blake wrote the song for the 1982 television adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, a seasonal English and Finnish favorite.

Yesterday’s Perfection

Possibilities no longer linger in a portrait of a day that was. Every yesterday is framed, in and of itself–perfect–some seemingly more so than others.

I’m not much on pulling from the past, even if it’s just a day previous but every day is its own energy. Sometimes, aiming for even means a look back.

So, here is my yesterday: I saw the x-ray of my left hip, six weeks after joint replacement surgery. It was perfect! So straight, certain–shiny!–unlike the erosive white of my bones. wheels-0716

My entire being filled with the possibility of walking, not only without a walker but going shopping, going hiking… all a gallery of yesterdays. Not my reality.

I returned my focus to the x-ray image of what is now my hip joint, sturdy and flexible. That is its function, its perfection. And for me, a moment of pure joy within the frame of chronic illness.

That reality has not changed but it does not diminish the joy. It lightens the maintenance of living with chronic illness. It’s so much more than a sliver of light.

With less pain, there is less demand on my energy on any given day. Once again, less is more. It’s an incentive to stay curious about what comes next.perfect-shell-0514

That did not happen without six weeks of hard work or unexpected loss. But I do not dwell there, either.

I keep my focus on the x-ray, the joy of the “small change, small wonder— the currency of my endurance and ultimately of my life” (Barbara Kingsolver).

And then I leave to buy a small carton of cashew milk, chocolate truffle ice cream.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page

Poetry Overflow

I have taught myself joy, over and over again.

It’s not such a wide gulf to cross, then,

from survival to poetry.

Barbara Kingsolver

ocean-pine-0215Yesterday, as I was searching for a Sunday poem, I came across Barbara Kingsolver’s quotation about the necessity of teaching one’s self joy, a lifetime task as it turns out.

After all, joy, too, rides the wave of impermanence.

I think I knew that or at least had assumed it but assumptions are light weight, if they have any merit at all. Joy is full-bodied, serious in significance, its own gravity.

Is it the secret to survival? Maybe or maybe not. I think it is.

Crossing the gulf to poetry–whatever form that may take–is not a river too wide. Nothing grounds me like a poem. Nothing. It brings me to life right where I am; I survive only to learn all over again.

Sometimes the poetry of Sunday overflows into Monday. It is the teaching of joy.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

To Write of a Revolution

lake-ella-fountain-0115Moving through suffering and reaching joy is a tender revolution, one of self- compassion; “everywhere a great joy is preceded by a greater suffering” (St. Augustine, Confessions).

It is tenderness that moves us through the pain we are carrying. Loving-kindness frees us from our fear. It is the first step in separating ourselves from suffering.

We may be raw, vulnerable, but we are no longer clinging to or running from pain. The exhausting emotional drama ends. In its wake is the energy of equanimity, joy on the horizon.

Compassion, loving-kindness, and equanimity are revolutionary acts, inciting change within to bear fruit in the outside world. Only when we change do we plant such seeds.

To see with eyes of equanimity is difficult; the same is true with loving-kindness. To write of a revolution of compassion may seem a fool’s errand. To live as a tender revolution is not.peace-offering-0115

Look at the alternative: exchanging one snarky comment for another or ramping up anger and fear just because…. Truly, greater suffering there but no great joy possible.

Emotions are so powerful and so useful when stripped of anger and judgment—the stuff of ego. What remains is ego-less energy–gratitude, compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity–the path to joy.

When some moment in life grabs us so fiercely we are forced to face it head-on, we know the tender revolution has begun yet again, Our perspective is about to broaden. Usually, that means upheaval–suffering yes but oh, the joy.

One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

Henry Miller

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page. 

Thanks to Caroline Johnson for the St. Augustine reference.