I spent a long, lazy, hot afternoon with my dad last weekend doing his favorite thing; philosophizing deeply down the rabbit hole. (The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree). We were talking on a park bench about illness and I said that I think the most effective thing a person can do when they are diagnosed with a condition is to do the things that most bring them joy, firstly and foremost.
He looked off into the distance for a long moment and said, “I could have screwed Joy once …” I almost choked and then chortled. He told me about a married woman who wanted to fly off to Hawaii with him when he was married to my mum. (Again, the nut …)
As my dad gets older, he is becoming acutely aware of what’s most important in life. I know he feels time slipping away like sand in his hands. When he was still chock-full of testosterone and brimming with aggressive ambition—or full of piss and vinegar,—as they used to say—his perspective was a lot different.
One thing that age and crisis will do, if you are conscious and willing to listen, is get you to slow down and embrace the joy. We mostly live in a level of comfort that does not prompt big questions and reflection until something monumental disrupts our complacency.
It would be absolutely impossible for you to know the impact and feel the deafening wallop of words like, “It’s cancer” for a second time. Or, “I’m sorry, she’s gone,” unless you’ve experienced them yourself.
One thing immediately happens. Normalcy comes to an abrupt stop. The whirlwind of demands and activity and “to dos” have no bearing on your life anymore.
The year that I had a second diagnosis was the worst of times and the best of times. In the midst of agony and anger, I was able to step away from it and listen. And I heard joy calling my name. I knew in my heart of hearts that I had to do the things and go to the places that brought me the most happiness and joy if I was to heal. I didn’t listen to the opinions of others or concern myself with what they thought of my decisions. I didn’t let almighty doctors dictate my life; I dictated how they could best serve me. It was not a time for listening to other people’s problems or the news or watching disturbing movies. It was not a time for hunkering into the crap. The crap could wait.
It was a time for rest and love and laughter and nature and beauty and kind healers.
But we don’t need crisis or old age to slow down and savor life. We can do it right here, right now.
If I could, I would let you see through the lenses of my rose-tinted glasses, ones that have a filter crafted by the master teacher, adversity.
I see iridescent green dragonflies riding tandem, and full spectrum rainbows after storms that summon our awe and wonder and fantasies of that pot of gold.
I see parks that want to be played in, and shape-shifting clouds that long to be watched, and trees that beckon us to sit under them with our blankets and pillows and books.
I see and hear rivers and streams gurgling and whispering an ionic therapy if we only choose to sit near one in stillness.
I see a cornucopia of food that wants to be sensually and slowly savored rather than scarfed down without thought.
I see strangers that we are meant to have synchronistic conversations with and people who need us to offer a random compliment or act of kindness, or one big radiant smile, one small gesture that could radically alter a bad day.
I see spontaneous offers to go for a walk in nature, or a drive to the majestic mountains, or a dinner on a patio on a hot summer’s night that must not be refused because of a meaningless task that can wait.
I see homeless people who need compassion and understanding because there by the grace of God go we.
I see people who desperately need laughter and lightening up and letting go of seriousness and solemnity.
I see evidence of and feel a benevolent and humorous intelligence that wants acknowledgment and gratitude and invites us into a relationship that will blow our minds.
I see a burning passion inside of you that wants to be realized.
We tuck away our joy like our grandmothers saved their china for Christmas dinner. We don’t allow ourselves the art of doing nothing but soaking up the beauty of life. But our joy is meant to be lived–now. Today.
What is your precious joy?
Like you, I squander joy for worry and survival and life’s sometimes overwhelming “realities.” Even though we all know we’re leaving the earth one day, we commonly act like we’re superheroes who will live on to infinity in this form. We often think … tomorrow.
What I would like for you to ponder today is the idea that we came here for unabashed joy. Not for seriousness and guilt and masochistic, self-created drudgery. Not for racing around in a frenzy that never ends and goes absolutely nowhere.
Breathe. Deeply and slowly. Right now.
Allow yourself unbridled, uncommon, audacious joy. After all what if that’s why you are here?
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