What is this thing called joy? I believe it's different for everyone. Personally, I find joy inexplicable. And each time I attempt to describe it, I end up saying something different. Sometimes it confuses me. It's often counterintuitive. When I am hit by one of life's storms, I often find it difficult to understand how I muster the strength to see beyond my circumstances and not throw myself a pity party. It's not that I deny or ignore the circumstances; I am a realist. It doesn't mean I don't get sad, angry, or whatever emotion presents itself at the time. I allow myself to live in the moment and feel whatever I'm feeling. I just choose not to get mired in my circumstances. And can I tell you that I've had some circumstances? I have been taking so many health hits that I often describe it as feeling like a boxer down for the count. But then my joy kicks in. And just when the referee starts to count "10", I reach for the ropes and stand. I may be wobbling, but I'm still standing. How that happens is inexplicable to me, but I know it to be joy. When I was growing up I used to hear people in church talk about a feeling of "fire shut up in my bones." And that's the best description I have of joy--something burning so brightly on the inside that it propels me to fight on.
I wrote this poem about joy:
Cannot be explained;
Cannot be contained;
Touches everything and
Everyone in its path;
May not change who or
What it touches,
But leaves a definite impression;
Has an automatic memory bank;
So no matter the circumstance,
It's sure to return.
My vision has been blurry for a few months. One day it was clear and, seemingly overnight, it became less clear. The change was discernible only when I attempted to read. I found that the closer I was to what I was attempting to read, the more cloudy my vision. The more distance I put between my eyes and what I was reading, the clearer the words became. Once I came out of denial and paid attention to what the need for distance was telling me, I went to my eye doctor and got a stronger lens. And voila! Now I'm seeing clearly again.
Throughout my life, I've needed the clarity that sometimes only distance can provide. Whether it was a work situation where someone was plucking my nerves, a harrowing health challenge, or a difficult relationship, getting some distance before acting would have helped me to see more clearly. But without that distance, being too close--that is, caught up in the emotion of the situation--only made things look cloudy. I have now learned the value of getting some distance in difficult situations. Whether it's taking some long, deep breaths before speaking, taking time to pray before reacting, or not making a decision before I've had a chance to calm down and think, I'm getting better at viewing life through a stronger lens. Because the perspective that comes with the stronger lens can change a forecast from cloudy to cloudy with a chance of sunshine.
A bird pooped on my face!!! Are you kidding me?! I'm in Paris, France taking care of business and living my dream. And it's like the bird said, "dream this!" So here I was walking down the street with a friend, looking up and taking in the beauty around me. And out of nowhere (I promise you I could hear it coming as it was quite the load), there was a huge green deposit of poop on my face. It ran from my forehead, down behind my glasses into my eye, and down into my mouth. Talk about nasty! And my friend was of absolutely no use to me. She was too busy howling with laughter. So much so that I thought she might have a deposit of her own. And each time I tried to ask if she had a tissue, she laughed harder. Once the initial shock wore off, I noticed the stares and heard the snickers of those around me who witnessed the deposit. But no one, NO ONE, offered any assistance. So there I was trying to act dignified with green poop running down my face, squinting through one eye looking for something to clean myself up. What a disgusting, humiliating experience. (Unfortunately, this was not my only bird deposit experience, but that's for another post.) No doubt, the deposit was a mood changer, but I was determined to shake/wipe it off and move on.
This experience makes me think about the deposits I leave on others' lives. Are they always positive, or do I sometimes leave behind something that requires cleaning up? And what if that person has nothing with which to clean off the deposit, and has no source of help--no joy to fall back on--to wipe/shake it off? I read something powerful the other day--"Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." So no matter what I may be going through, I want to be mindful of the kinds of deposits I make.