The world is a conflicted place. The tiny insignificant speck of our lives juxtaposed against the infinite universe causes a great rolling of the eyes as we cry in the shower (or the walk-in—if you know, you know), over our silly little human problems. But narrow down the focus and those problems become tangible suffering to our momentary selves. The shit gets real, so to speak. And difficult.
Still, I contend that we have not only the right to our own joy, but an obligation to it. After all, we are the way (the only way as far as we know) the universe reflects upon itself, and wouldn’t it be a travesty for the tragedy to outweigh the joy. What good is a depressed universe? It is for the great tragedies of the world that I become so committed to joy. We have to maintain some semblance of balance so as not to shift the universe into a darker more somber place. There must be light to balance out the dark. There must be weightlessness to balance out the gravity.
It is a serious undertaking, this commitment to joy and light and weightlessness. It takes effort and discipline and-quit rolling your eyes! I’m serious—practice. Have you tried focusing on a beautiful sunrise in a war zone? Pushing past a heavy veil of grief to find the laughter beyond? It’s not always easy to find the joy. But it looks to me like there’s plenty of darkness to go around, and so I, for one, am choosing to play for the other team. Even when it takes effort and discipline and practice. I might not always excel, but for the universe’s sake (okay, okay, and for mine), I’m going to do my very best.
For a while, I remembered the first time I said “ten years ago”. It was remarkable. Up until that point, ten years was an eternity, unfathomable, an entire lifetime. By now, though, the memory has faded to a faint hint of that youthful surprise-a memory of a memory. Now, as I stand upon the brink of our 20th wedding anniversary, I realize how little time that is. Not a lifetime, but a fraction of a lifetime if everything goes well.
To happen upon this day as if it were just another gorgeous October day, and find myself pleasantly surprised to run into an anniversary of some significance, is not nothing. Though I suppose we’ll treat it mostly as such. This is not a lament-no-but an acknowledgement of how we got here in the first place: each day skipping along merrily following the day before, rendering each other indistinguishable, until surprise, (!), you arrive at day 7,300 with no fanfare, no grand entrance.
Day 7300 will melt into day 7301 ad infinitum and one day we’ll be pleasantly surprised to have stepped into the 10,950th day and maybe we’ll pause a moment and look at each other, nod in acknowledgement before walking (or hopefully paddling) into another decade together. Because once you’ve gone this far, you measure things in decades. Decades of thousands of insignificant days punctuated by a few significant memories, and too many stories to recount.
“If it feeds you more fear than joy, skip it”, she says to me. Perhaps she can see the fear in my eyes, but I’m familiar with the feeling. I shrug, and keep going. I know the order of operations. It’s not “more fear than joy”, but rather, “first fear then joy”. Always. The joy comes from powering through the fear, from doing it despite being afraid.
I’ve been told that this is what courage is: being afraid and doing it anyway. I never would have considered myself a courageous person. I know I tend more toward the “flight” end of the adrenalin response. But in some contexts, I find fear to be a signal of future joy and power though.
I want to say I just learned this from our new hobby/addiction/obsession (whitewater kayaking), but I know there was fear as I headed off into the unknown of west Africa at age 19. Or even to the unknown of Kentucky at 17. And certainly at the unknown jumping off the cliff into full time vegetable farming.
And oh! The joy that is borne from that fear. The celebration of spirit that clambered over that boulder of apprehension. The printed exclamation point does not do the exhilaration justice (even multiple ones), but alas, this is our medium of expression at the moment, so feast your eyes on the joy: !!!!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.