An incredibly joyful friend recently shared that she’s been diagnosed with an incurable, degenerative disease. And as she shared her news, I made that face. The one that speaks of pain, disbelief, injustice and fear. As soon as she saw my face she said “don’t do that to me . . . don’t feel sorry for me!” At the time I thought it was the most courageous and intelligent reaction I’ve ever witnessed. How quickly are we to place our fear and outrage onto others when they share these unfair twists of fate? Instead, perhaps we need to listen for and ask what they need from us after trusting us with their own deep confidences.
This recent chapter was echoed while reading an incredible book by Stephen Levine who eloquently shares:
“Pity arises from meeting pain with fear. Compassion comes when you meet it with love.”
This is such a noble and powerful approach to pain. I wonder how often we can meet our own pain or that of others with pure love? It feels like an incredibly daunting challenge, and yet to consider the ramifications of pity and fear . . . perhaps its enough inspiration to try a new approach.
The recent wild weather in Sydney provided an opportunity to reflect on opposites. For nearly 72 hours the coast was thrashed with gallons of water and wind gusts above the freeway speed limits. This stormageddon turned the harbour bridge into a waterfall, the boardwalks into beaches and the shoreline quickly became a parking lot for boats and yachts. People appeared damaged as well. Bright faces turned dark as people struggled through their impossible commutes with flooded train stations, dangerous roads and no ferry services. Back at home electricity was sporadic and some found massive trees no longer standing, but blocking their path or crushing their possessions. Moods were glum and tempers were running high.
Today, the clouds broke and the sun reappeared. As if by magic, moods lifted with the temperatures and laughter was once again heard in pockets along the streets and throughout the cafes. Road (and ferry) rage diminished as normal commuting routines returned.
Many philosophers suggest that we need to understand the darkness of our own soul before we can revel in the light. And a dear friend recently shared a concept that rang true for her . . . that to experience something we must know it’s opposite fully.
So, did the weather provide the perfect and opposite backdrop to daily JOY? Can we find comfort in exploring the flip side of what we long for? Hopefully we can find balance in both the light and dark – that sounds quite JOYful to me.
The wise words of Brene Brown offer:
“gratitude is the precursor to joy”
Basically, she contends that we can’t touch joy without first feeling grateful. So gratitude is almost a stepping stone to swimming in JOY. This resonate as true for me. When I see an amazing sunset and feel joy bubble out of my pores its true that there is first a deep feeling of being grateful that I’m here, in this space, witnessing this spectacular light show. Or when I’m able to coax my unicycle close to the edge of the boardwalk without falling off my spontaneous laughter gives away my state of joy. But without doubt, I’m feeling grateful for my functioning body and the introduction of this joy maker into my life by Richard.
What are you grateful for? Does it lead you to JOY? I’m always incredibly grateful for the layers of love that exist in my life and I’ve started exploring the connection between love and joy. This article sparked my interest as it tackles the notion of love in a fresh perspective:
I hope it brings you some thoughtful contemplation and perhaps even a deeper sense of gratitude. And after all, how lucky are we that JOY is so readily available and we know the shortcut!