When the world feels as though its spinning out of time, as if the only thing holding it together is fear, it can be hard to sort out which way is up. When life makes me feel this low it’s easy to wallow in the feeling and let it take control of the core of who I am, and for a little while, thats OK. I think its important to feel anger, sadness, fear, or grief. These emotions are part of life’s balance and are key to opening new avenues of understanding, mindfulness, and tolerance.
We are the sum of what we trust and accept as the truth and in that we are all who we are for good reason. What we allow ourselves to consider as fact, or as right and wrong, or as good and evil, it’s all connected by fragments of honesty hiding in every viewpoint. It has been said many times and many ways because it’s true, we are the sum of everything and everyone we have come to know in our lives up to this moment. Our truth is our maker and that truth is both what divides us and what brings us together.
To unite is only as hard as we tell ourselves it is and to understand this is to accept that there is more than one version of any truth. To unite is to find ways to exist together within common ground and find compromises to exist outside of it without judgement. The only thing that keeps us from finding this is hate and fear which all too often in todays world is born of misreading each others personal trust and truth. Baseless assumptions.
I wish there was a way to help a divided nation of people understand each others point of view, no matter how far removed from each others truth it may be. However, something I have learned recently from my seven month old daughter, there is a moment at the end of each day when there is potential to feel exhausted to the point of becoming delirious with fight and vigor and we shut down anything and everything rational in our minds because we fear what hides behind our closed eyes.
We fear the unknown and that is exactly what we are facing. A change so opaque that none of us feel at ease enough to peacefully close our eyes at the end of each day. All we can seem to muster up is a sense of entitlement and an inflated confidence that our way is the best way, so we fight and scream against all that we feel is unjust but all this does is make the lines that divide us more and more deafening and stark.
So. Where do we go from here? Me? In the face of such a deeply divided unknown and seeing reports of violence and hate against one another, all I can do is want desperately to be the best me that I can possibly be to anyone and everyone in my path in hope that others will feel that not all is sideways in the world right now. A colorless blanket of acceptance and happiness is the best thing I think I can personally offer those around me.
This was a surprisingly difficult conclusion to come to this past week because of a pervasive realization that I could not find a sense of Joy in anything at all for a time. Not even my daughters smile was snapping me out of it. I wondered if she could sense that my smiles and laughter were not genuine as I searched within myself to capture the most basic of life’s fundamental meanings.
As time progressed I chose to turn to music. Simple and pure, starting with somber ambient albums which helped fill in the cracks between my thoughts. I quickly discovered a glimmer of focus among the chords and slow motion melodies. I eventually let in some rhythm and as it fell in sync with the beating of my heart I started to feel the sun on my face and the cool fall breeze on my skin again. Then, little by little, I remembered the power of Joy as it fought back against the darkness.
It is a feeling that was just heavy enough to fight the fear back to where I could start to see beyond it.
Now I can’t help but wonder when the last time many of the people I pass everyday have felt true joy. Did they notice as a flock of birds drifted past a beautiful sunset? Did they enjoy the face of the moon on a clear fall night? Did they feel the warmth of their loved ones hand as it gripped around theirs in the cold? Did the beat of their favorite song send chills down their spine as they sang their favorite verses out loud?
Joy is an essential stepping stone away from the darkness. Not the plastic manufactured Joy on the front of Christmas cards and holiday sweaters, but true, life affirming, heart beat rising, Joy with a capital J. It can be sneaky at times, hard to catch and embrace, but the next time you find even a glimmer of its light I suggest you wake up, grab hold of it, and focus that energy into something good.
Yes, find joy, then give it all away.
Seek it out, recognize it, share it with those around you and lets hope for all our sake that it is contagious.