I was listening to Krista Tippet interview Ross Gay, professor at Indiana University, poet and community gardener, yesterday on her show, On Being. The title of this post is something he said during the interview: “Joy is possible in the midst of difficulty.” I can attest to this.
My parents died 7 and a half days apart in 2006. This was grief on top of grief. I was executor for both estates which was an added burden and more stress. I felt cried out, but felt as if I wanted to cry more. I was quite neat with the filing of all the paper work to begin with -- separate files for each estate. I, however, thought at some point that neither of my sisters were going to demand to see the files and just started throwing the documents into the box.
I even wrote some poems about their deaths and about grief. I did a blog post where I posted some of the poems. The link is here.
So, in the midst of all of this I would have sudden intense feelings of bliss or joy. It felt somewhat incongruous, but it also felt ok at the same time. Yes, the world had color again. The world had beauty. I could see my way to accommodating the grief, or maybe rather, to seeing that it wouldn't rule my life forever. I knew that my parents would not want me to be in deep grief for the rest of my life. They would want me to find happiness and joy wherever and whenever I can.
Somehow I stared looking for the collateral beauty around me. I came to use this term much later after seeing the movie by the same name.
You do have to look for joy and beauty in times of grief or chaos or you won't see them, feel them. It helps me to find that inner place of calm when I can go walking in the park that I like. Or just spend some time really seeing the mountains around me, talking to friendly people.
I know that world appears to be cracking apart. But, I don't want to live in fear and anger, refusing to have compassion for myself and others. I want to live in a way that allows me to see joy and beauty and to help others to see them as well.