Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Joy and Shit…A Christmas Essay

Wishing to Save the World

Seeking wisdom and inspiration on Facebook the other day, I stumbled upon this quote: “We compare our every day lives to everyone else’s Highlights Reel”…and with that it became perfectly clear to me. We all have shit. Some big. Some small. Some steady. Some intermittent. Some is a gift from others. Some is dredged up from within. Some is very private. Some is out in the open. Some is debilitating. Some dizzying. And some…well, some just happens.

And yet, when it comes to the Christmas Card…or the jolly newsletter…we package it up with sparkly ribbons and bows. We ice over the defeats and sprinkle words like, Division Champs, Backpacking in Bali, Big Promotion, and Best in Show (sorry) like Martha Stewart sprinkles colored sanding sugar on her free-range all-butter shortbread snowman cookies. 

And of course these words are punctuated by photos of happy children with fresh haircuts, black ties and white dresses (always white…or at least sparkly) all of whom appear to have had an absolute blast with their parents on the five-star vacation where this photo was taken.

Possibly…and I may be alone here…but possibly that isn’t how it went. And maybe, those magical picture moments are not where the real joy in your life took place. 

Wishing for Peace on Earth

What if the real joy happen when you got back to the hotel room and the kids wrestled until a lamp broke.

Maybe the real joy happen when you were driving your mom to chemo and she was telling you how to change lanes on a road you’ve driven a thousand times and to watch out because the red car is going to make a left turn…and suddenly you realize you do the exact same thing with your teenager…and maybe in 35 years he'll think it’s cute too.

Maybe the real joy in your life now has nothing to do with husband or kids, but with having mastered the burdens and rewards of wearing the wings of freedom. But maybe it stings just a bit to see people parading their seemingly normal families in front of you as if trying to prove their joy trumps yours. But how do you photograph freedom?

And if you are in the acute stages of loss and acceptance, maybe your joy is to wake up one morning and not cry until after breakfast. (If you send me a smiling photo of you with your branflakes next year, I'll know that it may have been harder to stage than a four-generation matching tee-shirts family reunion picture)

I guess what I’m saying is we all have our shit. We all have our joy. And then there are the Christmas cards and facebook posts…which may have not much to do with either.

My wish for you this holiday season is to know you’re not alone with your shit and to find, recognize and cultivate those small moments of joy in your life as well. Never mind that they cannot be packaged up neatly in your Christmas Card. Remember them, write them down, fantasize about them and keep them forever to bring out when the shit seems overwhelming. 

For in those moments lie the best joy of all.

And Wishing you the balls to stick up for peace, love and joy
no matter what may come your way.