Wednesday, June 2, 2010

joy in the white space, day 10: on pain relief and worries (post edit, upon further thought)

We left my parents standing in their driveway yesterday, their hugs warm on our shoulders. It was a bittersweet goodbye, as always--- anxious to turn toward home, but feeling that pull of familiarity that only exists in your parents' presence.

Earlier in the day, dad took me to his chiropractor/acupuncturist buddy to try to clear up my continuing back/shoulder/neck/arm disaster. (Laying in a darkened room, soothing tinkling music playing softly in the background, about two dozen acupuncture needles protruding from various parts of my body, I realized that I'd missed a truly wonderful blogging opportunity--- to write about all the different things I've tried to get rid of this stupid back pain. It could have been EPIC... in my mind, at least.)

I realized that the joy I've been talking about for the last ten days, the joy that's hidden in the cracks--- for all my declaring that it takes work to find, I think I understood something yesterday: that it really can take actual WORK to find. Like, you take a moment that is tied up in frustration and stress and aggravation, and you have to pick through the strands with your fingers to find even the smallest piece of joy, an edge that is gilt in silver thread. And your fingers may get raw and bloody from the digging, but if you keep at it, the little glimmer of joy comes free and you see that it's a whole stretch of the shiny stuff just waiting to wrap you completely in warmth.

Extracting joy.
Pulling it from the wreckage of a bad day, or a bad moment, or a bad memory.
Fingers raw and ragged, but triumphant.

Tomorrow I'll be wrapping up the experiment, but you can be sure we'll revisit it from time to time. Please stop by tomorrow for the festivities, you seriously don't want to miss it (there will be a TREAT for each one of you that visits on Thursday, scout's honor).

Post Edit:
As soon as I finished writing this last night I packed up the laptop and fell promptly off into restless sleep, the special kind of sleep reserved for too-hot hotel rooms. Morning found me a little cranky and irritable. I was thinking about this post and how I left it unfinished, but couldn't put my finger on the solution (what needed to actually be said versus what I did, indeed, say--- are we keeping up with my inner dialogue crazies?).

Then I got Alicia's comment acknowledging what I'd said here--- and I realized what it was, that I, too, am guilty of coasting through some of the search for joy. Not every day. But some days. Maybe even a slim majority of them.

Here's what I think: there are things we have in our lives, if we are very lucky (and most of us are). We have people who love us, a roof over our heads, food to eat, creature comforts in enough quantity to feel belly-full and content. We have beauty surrounding us, in one form or another, and it doesn't take too much to stop and revel in it, even for a small moment. These things give our lives meaning. They give our lives purpose. They give us joy. In even the bleakest of circumstances (I'm thinking of YOU, dear Samwise), it doesn't take much to listen to the quiet gurgle of a small little girl blowing raspberries in the background.

The things that we find lacking cause a particular form of grief and gripe, whether it is a life free from physical pain or a baby to hold or a job that will be more fulfilling or a sack full of money. I think it's normal and human for the concept of what we lack to be foremost in our minds. I can honestly say that the thought of what I need and what I want cross my little mind far more often than they should.

But it's pretty darn easy to stop myself, take a breath, and say--- Dude. I shouldn't be feeling so terrible. I have Chip and Bean and fuzzy kitties and a lovely home. I have (insert the so-called GIVEN JOYS as described above)____________. And in this time of counting joys, of trying to extract them from the detritus of a bruising day, it's those given joys that I often go to as a landing strip.

They are there, no question.
They are beautiful, no question.
They are fantastic blessings and I feel extraordinarily lucky to have them in such abundance, no question.

But they feel...... easy.
Too often taken for granted and counted on as a day-brightener when the real work of digging for joy in the muck is left undone.

And that's what I wanted to say with this post originally. I don't know if this whole experiement has been a mind-blowing success because I've peppered you guys with the obvious answers more days than one. But I do know this: there have been the briefest moments when I got down on my knees and dug in the dirt clods and found something worth saving. I think, if I rescued even one thing from a bleak field, one thing to bring inside my heart and polish it for safe keeping, I can say that this has been a worthwhile journey.

I'll say the same for you, if you don't mind. If you have allowed yourself to peer under a dusty worry and found something worth saving, if you have given yourself a minute to sift through the trash and retrieve a small bit that has grown bright and shiny in your keeping, you've done well. Really, really well.

My buddies in the experiment:
Eight Twenty Eight
One Day at a Time
City Mouse Country
Four Molnars
Midnight Rambler
Hannah's Song


Shelly Overlook said...

I'm sorry I haven't been playing along, but just haven't been around enough to be faithful. But, yesterday as the kiddo and I were driving around running a million errands, I turned down the NPR I was listening to in order to better hear the songs she was making up in the backseat. She'd been talking NON-STOP all morning and I just wanted some quiet, but the songs were so cute, so sweet and innocent, I thought to myself "Self, this is the joy Whimsy Duh has been talking about. Shut up and listen." So I did.

Sibley Saga .... said...

I have been quietly lurking in the shadows during the joy project. I couldn't bring myself to share with anybody how horrible the last week has been. It started off getting chastized at work for what in my mind was just being a working Mom and they were mad at me for not essentially working for free. Then it continued with bad news from my bone scan. I also got put in charge, basically, of all the young women at church. My daughter has developed this crazy asthma/allergy thing where she wheezes and struggles sometimes just to breethe. My doctor said I had to immediately stop breastfeeding because of the drain of calcium on my bones. I wasn't prepared for how much that would hurt and how much I'd miss that time with her. Tears. I was also told that if my bone density doesn't do a serious comeback (which my doc thinks it might with treatment, etc) in six months I may not have a safe chance to have any other children. There's a still tiny window of possibility but the news still felt like that of a death in the family. I've been grieving. Seriously grieving for lost opportunities and yet another disease that seems to try to take over my life in addition to the other chronic diseases I have to live with.

So-it's been good for me to see all these attempts to find joy. My fingers are a little 'bloody' like you said. But I am taking joy in my daughter who is happily blowing raspberries in the background. Raspberries are fun. : )

Bethsix said...

This is what I've not been great at - the actual EXTRACTION of the joy. I've been lazy, writing about where it's obvious. It's been nagging me that I've been opting out of the actual difficult part, of pulling it out of places where it's not obvious. I have these "opportunities" too. But it's HARD, Whimsy. Hard, I say.

Hannah said...

Boy, Whimsey, that's a challenge. Beautifully articulated here, as usual. I have to do some serious pondering on it.

And Sibley Saga, thanks for delurking at The Creamery and sharing. I really appreciated your perspective on this.

Midnight Rambler said...

Beautifully written, as always. I love that I come here and can laugh and smile in appreciation that someone else is thinking similar thoughts but articulating them a million times better. And I also love that it always makes me stop and think about my life. My life that really is so full and wonderful, and yet I am more often than not a grump and a crankypants to my poor undeserving husband. I will take up this challenge to continue digging (especially in the next three weeks ... trust me, it will take some SERIOUS dirt-work!). Thank you, Whimsy, for who you are, what you write, and all your creaminess.

Erin P said...

I don't know how I missed this whole series of posts on extracting joy, but I just read them. As always, they are beautifully written and challenging. And, with all the people I know who can't find a job they so desperately need, I should just appreciate what I have. Thanks for all of this, Whimsy.