We need it. We want it. But can we allow it?
Admittedly, it’s not been an easy year. In January, my husband almost died during heart surgery – twice. In February our 17-year old cat died three weeks after we returned home from the hospital. And in June, my brother Richard died tragically when his airplane crashed. I thought I would never feel joy again.
I asked some friends who had lost several family members, how they found joy after loss of this magnitude. They told me, “You find it in the younger generations.” That gave me hope. I was then planning the McGrath family reunion, filled with cousins in their 20’s and 30’s. And I have younger friends. But, you can’t force joy. You just prepare the soil for it to grow in its own time.
A few days ago, at the dentist’s office, I read a TIME magazine article on Robin Williams. A quote from Christopher Reeves after Robin had visited him in the hospital, really spoke to me:
“Thank God I wear a seat belt in this chair, because I would have fallen out laughing. In the middle of a tragedy like this, in the middle of a depression, you can still experience genuine joy and laughter and love. And anyone who says life’s not worth living is totally wrong, totally wrong.”
Laughter and tears are good bedfellows, but the one that gets us up in the morning is worth cultivating.
In the past few weeks I have noticed joy seeping in around my roots. It pops me out of my tears, and chases me around like a cat after a ball of yarn. I even felt joy recently while listening to the concern of a dear friend of mine. Instead of sinking into sadness with her, I suggested she let the toxic energy of those around her drop into the ground and be composted. Somehow, this image got us both laughing, and she let the sadness go. Earth not only cultivates joy, it composts grief.
Much of our own sadness is the trapped energy of others. As a child, I did not feel permission to be happy unless my mother was happy. My job was to take care of her. I couldn’t read during the day without worrying I would be seen as lazy and insensitive, so joy was not part of my vocabulary. I didn’t know then that joy itself is healing.
As we return to work after Labor Day, I share this photo from the last day of my summer vacation as a reminder that joy is always on the horizon. While you can’t make it come faster than it wants, you don’t have to wait until all the clouds have lifted. You can invite it as an intention, call it in, seduce it, play with it, and chances are, it will sail in!
How do you find joy in your life?