Gratitude Sunday: The Theory Of Joy

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Khalil Gibran

Sunday Haiku
Rain enough between
sun showers to send cedar
scent through open doors.

Sunday Musings
The instructor swam over to me after the 5-6 year old class left the pool, her face gleaming.

“That was so cool,” she said.

She is 19, California blonde and lithe, off to her second year of college, and if her parents had named her Sunny they would have pegged it. Over the last three or four years we’ve talked and shared stories as she was lifeguard for me in the pool. She sometimes spoke of her concerns about the littles she taught, and I offered encouragement to her because I could see the progress she coached out of each child.

“What was cool?” I asked.

Sunny told of one of her littles who had always been afraid of the water, unsure of her ability, complaining and resistant to trying anything new. Suddenly today, the little girl gleefully demonstrated all the previous skills she had learned and joyfully tried everything new without argument or hesitation. At the end of class Sunny asked her what had happened, to change in a few days from afraid at the last class to her enjoyment of this class.

“I woke up this morning,” the little girl said to Sunny, “and told myself I was going to be brave. It’s been hard but I’ve had fun all day!”

She certainly impressed Sunny who couldn’t wait to share the story and I was the closest person. I enjoyed the story so much I asked her permission to share and she said of course. And of course I’ve changed her name for her privacy.

The child’s thought was so simple, yet she admitted it had been hard to do, and then it led to a fun day. Sunny mused why it didn’t seem to be that simple for most of us. And since I’m a hundred years or so older than Sunny and a worst-case scenario (read: hyper-vigilant) person, I was thrilled to find a moment of pure joy in the day, and I shared my theory about joy. Which is that joy is fleeting and when it happens you have to enjoy the feeling at the moment, in the moment, with every fiber of your being no matter where the moment of joy comes from, whether it’s a moment of nature appreciation, an epiphany of some sort, or the clicking of new knowledge into something retained. And sharing that moment of joy amplifies it exponentially if other people can share the joy as well.

That’s why it’s so satisfying to have a job you enjoy; you get moments of joy all day long. The best moments of joy come from sharing other people’s joy, like new babies, or tickling toddlers, or getting to watch little ones learn to swim when they thought they were afraid. Or watching an older person, still and always being the lovely person she’s grown into, imagining her as a younger, and all the parts it takes to make up the whole of a person. Taking a minute outside the local lending library because the beautiful large tree in the neighbor’s yard is bird friendly and with every exit from the library doors the birds twitter and whistle and sound so joyful; do birds experience joy? Can birds tell humans of their joy? Is thinking about birds a moment of joy? Or watching a spider weave his web. Critters are joy (as long as they are outside). Outside the door at my counselor’s office the blue spruce has cones the most beautiful soft shade of green. I want a room that color. Color is joy. The neighbor kids playing, their voices together sounding like music rippling through the yards. Finding a couple of words to fit together that makes your skin tingle. Doing something new even though you are afraid, or unsure, or shy, or sometimes because you have to, and you know by no stretch of the imagination it will be fun, and it’s joy merely because you pushed through the fear and did it. Life is joy. Wonder is joy. Marveling and thinking too much are joys.

Sunny kindly listened to my theory about joy, and bounced out of the pool to share the story with the other staff. The story was enough to cheer anybody’s day. But there was another kind of brief joy: somebody taking the time to share a story, and somebody taking the time to listen, and then it went back the other way as well. Sometimes the greatest kindness we can give to another is the gift of listening.

I’m lucky. I’m nosy and curious and I love listening to other people’s stories and thoughts. I love thinking I might learn something from them if we can talk long enough. I treat it like story time, but I’m not always the best listener, because if anything confuses me I interrupt; I have to have sense immediately. I’m learning to be more patience about that. It can scare people if you are easily confused or ask too many questions. I just like a complete story, and I like being able to tell the characters from each other. I confess to re-reading, and paging back in novels and non-fiction, or reviewing videos, when I feel I’ve lost the plot line or get characters confused.

Good thing people come in all shades of fear. I suspect we all have fear, some of us have learned not to show it, for better or worse. Some people have no fear, no problem with trying new things, or at least it looks like that to the rest of us. Some people seem confident with all they do, hesitating only briefly to prepare for the next step. Other people seem overly confident and then don’t deliver. Others are so afraid they can’t even lift their eyes from the ground or get a job when they might be able. Like Sunny’s little girl said: it’s hard.

If we were kinder to each other and celebrated each others’ success I suspect we would have less fear in this world. People could feel free to try new things because they would know nobody would make fun of them or put them down, and might even make it easier for them to achieve what they want. A bit of competition can be good, but in America I fear we are seeing the results of too much of that “good” thing.

I still vote for being brave. To wake up each day and say, “I will be brave today” and then go about your day with that mantra in your mind, it could make your day a little more fun. It’s worth a try, like when we were kids before our spirits got broken and being brave was just what we did. If it’s hard it makes the joy all that more dear; one must know darkness to appreciate the light. If enough of us approach each day that way perhaps we could change the world, by sharing our joy in being brave.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – My favorite hot pink fuchsia is loaded this year. I keep trying to capture the blue of this spruce tree, and I love the contrast with the other shades of green. I found a small patch of lavender with its lovely gray foliage. Love the wine-burgundy tones the leaves of my coral bells take on. Trying to capture the multiple shades of green, pinks, and yellows as this bush puts on its autumn dress. Because I love critters, a bumble bee butt is all we see as he wiggles deep into a purple mallow.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} (My internet was down for five days this week, that’s why I didn’t post on September 30, and it gave me some time to watch a few extra items.) * Black Panther (2018, rated R), a Marvel Comics production. Despite the gratuitous sex and violence, these Marvel productions employ witty dialogue and make me laugh. * Genius: Einstein (2017, rated TV – MA) a dramatized BBC series about the life and times of Albert Einstein. He had challenges many of us have, the ones of us who have trouble following rules or who question the way it’s always been done before. As a man of his time he also benefited from the brilliance of his wife while giving her no credit as she cared for his home and raised his children, as many men of our time do and have done as well. The production portrays Einstein’s struggle to maintain science separate from politics, and both the characters and the dialogue echo what we are living through in today’s political climate of science deniers. Rhyming history, which we can learn from if we will. * And now we move into the Halloween scary movies for October. 15 Minutes (2001, rated R), with Robert de Niro, a cop thriller, with de Niro trying to stop two killers who are videotaping their murders in an attempt to claim video fame. Chilling, quirky, and unpredictable. * Hereditary (2018, rated R) with Toni Collette who is one of my favorite actors. The trailers on this were deceptive. I thought I was going to get a psychological thriller, instead it disappointingly sank to the level of the typical gory-bloody demonic possession horror movie. While Collette demonstrates a wide range of emotions and facial expressions, I felt this was beneath her to lower herself to the blood and guts level. * The chillingest I’ve watched this week was season one of The Handmaid’s Tale (2017, rated TV- MA). I remember reading this novel many years ago and being disconcerted at the futuristic world novelist Margaret Atwood created where we’ve damaged our world so much we lose human fertility, and it comes across even more bluntly on film to think that a few people can subvert the politics of America to control the bodies of women. Oh, wait. That’s what we are fighting against right now, in America, in 2018. Vampires and zombies and witches will never frighten me as much as men and women who seek power over other people. * The Florida Project (2017, rated R) about a six year old girl living in poverty in the shadow of Disney World. I may have to think about this movie for a couple weeks to get its point. To start, we all have difficult lives and hard stories behind them.

Currently ReadingThe Little Paris Bookshop (2015, fiction) by Nina George. The plot thickens as Monsieur Perdu casts free from the harbor and glides down the Seine. I read cinematically and with the tidbits of humor the author writes I can easily see this as a fun movie. We’ll see what the ending reveals. * Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What to do About It (2017, sociology, wealth) by Richard V. Reeves. Money comparisons disturb me, as it indicates competition rather than cooperation, especially where the wealth of the wealthy drives consumerism by the lower income classes in an attempt to keep up, the keeping up of which cannot happen in the society we currently have. The capitalist game and the American myth of anybody achieving the rags to riches wealth is rigged in America from birth on, and mere wealth is a poor marker of intelligence or merit. We will need to make changes.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Some lovely, mild, fake summer days with the doors open and soft breezes.
  • Being overcome by the feeling to take a short walk, which unfortunately isn’t more than a couple blocks these day, but was treated to the delight of finding an older neighbor whom I haven’t talked to for a couple years, crawling around weeding her lovely front garden, and a friendly discussion.
  • Her invitation to crawl around and help her weed. I declined. We laughed.
  • Her cute little dog who minded me when I told him he had to go be by his mom as we were standing right next to the street.
  • Having the opportunity to thank her for sharing her garden with the rest of us in the neighborhood.
  • The moon bright and clear peeking in the corner of my open door while I work.
  • That feeling of missing someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, because it’s still not likely you’ll get to talk to them anytime soon, and knowing your heart and soul is still intact because you feel the missing.
  • Getting some housework done I’ve been wanting to do when internet service crashed for a few days.
  • Flashlight at the ready when I had a nightmare.
  • A day of scattered rain showers after the nightmare which felt like a cleansing.
  • A bag of pears from a friend which I put into the fridge to ripen and have been perfect as I pull each one out to eat.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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