I think I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a young girl. And then I wanted to be a scientist. And then I wanted, around 6th grade, to become a writer. Or maybe I already was.
Remember when your wants were so pure that they were not subject to your scrutiny? Remember when you could be happy and you weren’t so burdened down by shoulds or responsibilities or to dos or stressors that don’t really matter to you?
Remember when you weren’t fleeing from your joy by overworking, settling, compromising and delaying true presence?
I can remember only because I travel quite frequently. And when I travel, most of the time, I tend to have these small moments where I abandon the critical/skeptical/controlled voice and just be. And love what I love.
And no fires erupts, no relationships crumble, no disasters of character land me in handcuffs.
Outside of these moments, I often just do my autopilot routines. They are the epitome of health…daily exercise, green veggies, contribution and care, connection. And I think that I am happy, sure, and joyful, yes. But many days, recently, I am not. I am doing what I “should” but not seizing what I want.
So what brings joy? We are a VERY hedonistic culture, but even seeking these promised pleasures (material objects, professional success, the nice house and car, the great food, the vacations, or video games, the PX-90 body) often FAIL to bring us true joy.
Why don’t we seek true joy?
First…it often takes a lot of painful self reflection. And Second, it is risky.
And the LAST thing we want to do is FAIL. Be out of CONTROL.
We don’t want to fall. Isn’t it funny how we are born with a fear of just two things: Loud Noises and Falling. I still get scared when “BOOM!” something FALLS near me. I am positive one day a house is going to flatten me like Aunt Jemima’s Pancakes.
So perhaps we guard our hearts, and protect our spirits. My favorite poet, Mary Oliver writes
“are you breathing just a little a calling it a life?”
So we don’t push ourselves, we confine ourselves to the daily grind, we aren’t vulnerable, we numb. and in the process, we disconnect and lose that sense of joy.
I’ve lost lately, and recognize that I am a season of rebirth. So I am taking a few extra sick hours here and there to try and re-sense this inner joy, and listen, listen, listen.
You know where joy is? Joy is in the things we do for free, without payment or recognition of any sorts. I have found in this new season that there are always a few things that give me that sense of “freedom.”
Write…I’ve been writing freelance travel articles and feature stories for a local American paper over here for the past year or so.
Community Health….with a weekly radio spot and about one public speaking engagement per week, I have found an energizing niche to provide community psychological consultation to a wide range of audiences. I speak on parent health, leadership, personal resiliency, coping strategies and inter-relational health. Challenging and inspiring.
Kitchen Creativity…at work I take care of the snacks, and organize about 1-2 team potlucks a month. This is often draining. What is fun for me is to use my sense of taste to create new recipes and share them with others. (think: apple butter and granola)
Moving…I am now focusing more on strength that distance or quickness. But each day I wake up and want to MOVE, in one fashion or another. Doing a simple, daily yoga practice has been life saving.
The only way I know how to “fall” into my joy is by letting “go.” and listening to that tiny voice inside of me that is telling me where the source of my power is. by flexing my core. by pausing. Not only in order to survive a crash landing, but to thrive from it.
What brings you joy?