Shit’s been heavy, hasn’t it? I mean not just from a personal standpoint, but from like, a global one.
It is not enough that we have been battling pandemics and politics for the last two years but throw in war and mass shootings and it is pretty fucking easy to get swallowed up whole in grief and despair.
But who can function there?
Or perhaps more accurately, who wants to function there?
I don’t know about you, but when I get caught up in the heavy of it all I tend to become overwhelmed and overstimulated and if y’all know anything about anxiety, those are pretty much two major precursors to a panic attack. To be honest, my spirit is slightly worn out and continuing the conversation on things like common sense gun laws and women’s rights to their own bodies would be a disservice to my own mental health.
Which always leads me back to the question of: can we care and advocate for change and still be allowed to rest?
Yes friends. Yes we can. I am not a fan on should-ing on ourselves, but rest is a should.
These issues aren’t a sprint to the finish line. The problems weren’t created overnight and the solutions won’t be found in an instant. It is more like a marathon. It’s going to take time and in order for us to go the distance and see it through we have to find our strength. We have to feed our souls. And I think that seemingly impossible stamina is found in rest and reflection.
I’ve started referring to that as ‘pockets of joy.’ It makes me feel less guilty for finding happy when my scroll is filled with tragedy and my soul is filled with fear. My counselor tells me that guilt is reserved for those who have done something wrong and I have to remind myself of that often.
Joy is not wrong.
In fact, it is necessary and it is life giving and it feeds our passions and desires for better. It is a mandatory balance in a world that has so much sad. All that to say that I had a pretty pure pocket of joy this past weekend that I want to share with you. Not in a “look at me” kind of way, but in a “there is still so much beauty in the world and I will be damned if I let it pass me by without acknowledging it” kind of way.
I am going to begin by setting the scene so.
Without further ado…
It started with the absolute most gorgeous morning. I mean crystal clear, deep blue skies with a few puffy, brilliantly white clouds scattered throughout. An actual painting.
And the weather. Insert chef’s kiss here because it was fantastic. Picture the perfect amount of breeze that moves just enough air to keep stagnant energy from collecting around your personal space. It was like a Goldilocks situation because it wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold. It was just right.
It was one of those mornings where I could sit outside and be completely comfortable in lightweight, cotton filled pajamas. I didn’t need a fan or a blanket. I could drink my hot coffee without profusely sweating and it was okay when it cooled off because I wasn’t relying on it to warm up my insides.
I literally live all year long for mornings like this one. I am the kind of person who soaks up all that glory in solitude and then when my spirit is satisfied I drag all my people out to experience it with me.
So I forced my husband to sip the coffee I persuaded him into making (because gorgeous mornings start with coffee even when you don’t drink coffee) outside in one of our white, peeling paint, arm rest broken off rocking chairs. And I brought out the dog because she loves her some fresh air and all the spawn who woke up before noon because they need some fresh air.
As we sat on the porch our #3 and #4 kicked a soccer ball all throughout the front yard and then ran after it. And the thing about kids running is that they look absolutely free. Now when I run, I feel like my joints are crushing beneath the weight of my nearly 40 year old body. It seems like my ankles could buckle and I could easily be thwarted forward to fall on my face from the inertia of it all. I feel like a herd of elephants traipsing through the yard as my feet drag beneath me. Like do they even lift off the ground or are they too dense to do so. It is the opposite of whatever care free looks like.
But when my kids run, man. They are light. Almost hopping through the air, feet barely tapping the ground for stability. The wind blows through their hair and passes through their clothes and it doesn’t even slow them down. I don’t think their breath quickens. God, I absolutely love to watch my kids run.
And then there was our dog. Laying in the grass looking calm and cool and collected. My kids are her truly her pups and I think she felt the same freedom in their presence and was just taking it all in alongside me.
I looked over at my husband and I said, “You know what, we actually dreamed about this moment. We actually dreamed about sitting on a front porch, drinking coffee, while our kids run around in our front yard free from traffic and people and having a dog lying in the freshly cut grass alongside us.”
And in that moment, in that realization, I felt actual joy. Like pure, unadulterated joy. “Isn’t that amazing?”
And here’s where I am inserting a I don’t say “oh we’re living our dreams” in a we’re living our best life kind of way. I say that in a “most of the time it feels like we aren’t” kind of way. Let me just fill you in on a few little tidbits to really drive the point home.
We are still as middle class as they come. Every time we think we will make headway in our finances, a car craps out or a kid ends up in the emergency room. And then we think we’ll be able to pay off the most recent catastrophe we are met head on facing a new one like broken appliances or PTO-less days off work because sick kids. Is it just me or can the PTO not keep up with the amount of sick days required to parent these days? But I digress.
Our house looks like an actual battlefield with broken curtain rods in our living room that are curved in places that curtain rods don’t normally bend but they still keep the fabric off the ground so they will do. We have so many holes in our walls from kids opening doors in a way that makes me wonder why we even waste money on door stops and did the person who invented said door stops even have kids? There are actual metal studs showing on the corners of our walls because I have no fucking clue why. Our broken blinds are covered in teeth marks from the dog who can’t open said blinds but still wants to see out of them.
We have dreams of taking our kids to Disney World and our kids have dreams of getting on an airplane. We would love to hop in an RV and drive all across the country on a whim. A ‘parent’s only’ vacation is on the bucket list and I would give my one working coffee maker to find a literary agent who would take me on and help me publish my book.
And truth be told, there are times when I feel so selfish having brought kids into this world. I mean, they are amazing humans and I think they are the best part of every day. But maybe I should have more seriously considered whether or not I wanted them to have to fight these fights and to have to face their own personal demons on top of all the bullshit.
But then mornings like yesterday happen and I watch them run and I’ll be damned if I don’t want them to feel that sense of genuine joy. The kind of joy that can only come from doing absolutely nothing in the midst of an ordinary Sunday morning.
I think that it is pretty incredible that In the middle of all the fucking chaos and worldly terror and absolute uncertainty happening all around, in that moment, I felt actual joy. And that joy, man. It was almost like I experienced a sigh of relief and with that release came an ache and understanding that this is what it is all about. It was almost like all the other shit wasn’t happening. It was almost like discovering that it is all going to be okay.
I mean, it’s not going to be okay just because it’s gonna be okay. It is going to be okay because we are going to invest our time and energy into making the wrongs we see in the world… right. And we can only do that when we fill ourselves with permission to slow down and acknowledge the what it is all about moments. And then take some time to delight in it.
When the world feels as heavy as it has and we start to get in our heads about how it is all falling apart, I think it is important to remember a few things. We can feel the heavy and not be consumed by it. We can look for pockets of joy and bask in them. We can care about the injustices in the world and continue to live our lives. We can fight for change and still take time to rest.
Dialectical thinking at it’s finest, eh? Anyway.
I will end these ramblings with an invitation, if you will.
Let’s fight when we are rejuvenated and rest when we are not. Let’s allow ourselves to grieve when we feel sad and to feel joy when it finds us. Even if the world or our world is falling apart. Let’s not feel the need to qualify the joy or rationalize the joy or feel guilty for the joy. Because the more I think about it the more I think that joy is just hope on steroids.
And, uh, if there’s one thing I think the world needs more of, it is hope.