There is an abundance of sorrow on this small Earth, of that we might all agree, but there is also, at least here in northern Vermont, the ability to find joy quite easily in May. In the buds and flowers and leaves and warming temps and that fabulous blue sky hovering like sapphires above each and everyone. I am not ignoring the staggering horrors dropping like thick fog, but I am asking that mess to push aside for this day to feel a joy so big it overpowers. This week joy seems to be what lots of people reminded me to feel too: an unfiltered, possibly even a radical joy.
I was struggling with a tough decision, and joy guided me to the right outcome. In the past joy might not have been on my list of pros. Money would often be at the top of that. Not that money isn’t important, for in this frightening economy, money is indeed a deal maker, but in this instance, joy shot to the top of the leader board, outdoing money. I’m referring to the kind that bubbles up slowly like when you wake without an alarm on a Sunday morning to gentle light and bird song or spy pink flowers bursting along every branch. Decisions with that in mind come easier, at least that’s what I am experiencing.
Pre-pandemic I would not have let joy dictate much. Of course I would chase it down on a Friday evening or run with it every vacation, but come Monday I’d return the spark to the shelf along with the celebratory flutes. But now, oh now, who wants to wait until the weekend to experience joy? Many people had the good fortune to discover they could be productive working from home dressed in leisurewear, while everyone learned that they could find happiness in simpler ways, in smaller bubbles, in ways that mattered most. As long as there was time with their grandkids or best bestie or even their little beast, joy flourished causing the whole world to reevaluate priorities about the whole world.
Time allowed for seeing more of what surrounds us. Three separate people this week asked me if I would gain more joy if I followed my decision. It is an echo that I can’t shake. Should joy be the yardstick by which we measure our lives against? I wonder what my ancestors would say about such a gauge. Didn’t they encourage work and work and work for family, community and country, until you could do so no longer? Only Sunday allowed for a shift, but even then, was joy the pinnacle they strove for during their enduring contemplation? No, I don’t think so. This is a new wind of change blowing away the Puritanical dust that damns all pleasure, demanding instead that we allow for joy.
I will try this new addition to the pro list. Ask is joy gained or not? Is there that lightness and freedom to wake with a song that makes you smile in the equation? If not, skip it. Say no. Decline. Or at least let joy weigh in as part of your assessment. Make it a legit factor as you make your decisions, as you plan and plot your days. Radical you say? Perhaps, but perfect for me at this moment.
Let me know how joy dictates your living. I’d love to share in that lightness.