So the first few weeks of this joy plan proved themselves rather trying.
A friend of ours has experienced an unimaginable and tragic loss, repercussions of a struggling economy are all around us, I sustained a very minor but uncomfortable injury after Christmas that is taking time to resolve, and on it goes.
So much pain, heartache, and uncertainty in the world. Every. day.
All of this during my first weeks of publicized joy finding.
I never said it would be easy. And calling upon joy does not guarantee her arrival, or does it?
Because when I really think about it, there were moments of pure happiness.
For example, this.
My gardener/writer friend invited me over to his greenhouse one morning. It was chilly. I kept my big coat on and we sat amidst his heartier winter-tolerating plants and drank hot pumpkin tea and chatted. It was overcast at first, but towards the end of our visit we found ourselves and the plants bathed in cheerful sunlight. He entertained me with his stories and told me about some of the plants in our company.
And this. Reading Harry Potter again, inspired by the news of the recent death of the lovely and deeply talented Alan Rickman. George and I deciding to take on the 4th and 5th books, immersing ourselves in a world of such magic and beauty-first reading together but then him reading on, eagerly jumping ahead of me. Alex, excitedly chiming in at supper one night as we talked about Harry Potter, reflecting on how her entire childhood was somewhat defined by J.K. Rowling’s books.
A homemade pizza crust one Saturday night eaten in front of the fire that turned out better than any I have ever attempted. ever. Pure heaven.
And then just a few days ago we attended the dance show put on by Olivia’s middle school and it was a pure spectacle of joy – a triumph of creativity, energy, synergy, commitment. Loads of people working together to create something positive and wondrous. My girl swept away by her love for performing.
photo credit to Lethbridge School District No51
Pumpkin tea in a greenhouse, Harry Potter, pizza, and a dance show.
And then just one more deliciously lovely moment. Cuddled up with George watching a documentary on pelicans that he had been asking us to watch with him for weeks. At first, of course, it was all quite gentle and interesting -pelican behaviours and development, habitat, rehabilitation practices etc.
but then it quickly got depressing as these nature documentaries always do.
Heart-breaking scenes showing helpless pelicans drowning in oil spills, stuck and struggling in fishing nets or with hooks lodged in their throats, their webbed feet deformed by frost bite due to changing weather patterns affecting migratory behaviours. ugh.
It begs one to ask what is even the point of rehabilitation for these birds. What are these poor pelicans even being sent back out into?
But even as I ask the question I know the answer.
They are being sent back out into life, in all of its beauty and wretchedness.
They are being sent back out into the wild to be with other pelicans, to soar above the ocean waters, and to do that perfectly executed long and straight arrow dive in that particular pelican way. Keeping pelicans in even a beautiful sanctuary is not an answer at all. In fact, if that is the only alternative they are often euthanized.
Life is tricky and dangerous and filled with all sorts of things that could go wrong, events that could very well break our hearts and leave us marred,
but, life, in every form, is also our very greatest privilege and gift.
And to truly experience it and honour it we must be courageous enough to open ourselves up to the fullness of it all, fish hooks, oil spills and all.
For, as the wise women discussed at my last workshop, when we are courageous enough to open our hearts to joy, when we are strong enough to feel, than we are also making ourselves quite vulnerable to sorrow,
all of it existing within one same spectrum.
We may suddenly find ourselves weeping for all sorts of reasons,
so easily touched by beauty, kindness, creative acts, pain, despair;
The plight of pelicans, a friend’s grief, or a perfectly choreographed dance. All of these experiences – treasures for the open-hearted.