There was not a lot of good news this week. Some of it unspeakable.
As a consequence I have found it helpful to deliberately search for small moments of joy. This treasure hunt does not diminish the awfulness of situations outside of our control. It does, however, give us momentary reprieve for those of us who are witnesses from afar. When things happen that are beyond our control and where we are not personally impacted we need to be able to reach out to those who are suffering and offer whatever solace we can. And to keep ourselves from sliding off the cliff we can look for ways to restore our hearts so we can be there for those who need us.
One way that I find helpful is to go looking for small moments of joy. By turning the flashlight of my attention outwards, in the place where I find myself, I begin to notice the beauty of nature, my neighbors, and helping hands. For instance, I took a walk two days ago with a member of my household, keeping our distance of course.
I was participating in a course on attention, at that time and this was the assignment.
A Treasure Hunt for Moments of Joy
When you were younger, perhaps you played a game that involved a treasure hunt or a scavenger hunt. Unlike the scavanger hunt, a treasure hunt may not offer you anything specific to look for. You are simply looking for “treasure.” For a child that might be candy, or a small toy, or a dollar coin, or maybe a shiny marble stone. You’re searching for treasure, but you don’t know exactly what to look for. Gregg Krech
I often do this, but have not called it a treasure hunt before.
Here is what I found:
- Bluebells in a front yard
- The parkway along the canal, now closed to traffic, allowing room for walkers and cyclists to spread out.
- An hour walk in glorious sunshine.
- Ted Talk on Joy by Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyfulness: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness and The Aesthetics of Joy – a book on the science of designing joy in our environment.
- An unexpected surprise in my mailbox, of a beautiful handmade card and note, from a special young woman in my life
- The weeping willows unfolding along the canal
- A gorgeous cardinal singing his heart out
- Two perfect cups of coffee after having run out several days earlier
- Watching my grandson’s first zoom piano lesson today
- Taking photos of all the signs of spring I could find
These are only a few moments of my joy spotting report. The lid of my treasure chest won’t close as it is overflowing with bounty.
We all know that there are times in a life when tragedy is so intense we have no way to begin to look for moments of joy. There will, however, come a time when it will be once again be possible.
This is a practice that can hold you in good stead through rough waters. I suggest you find a notebook and become a joy spotter. Write down a few things at the end of the day. Work hard at also noticing the unnoticed: the green shoot growing in the crack in the pavement; the young man or woman serving you behind the plexiglass screen at the store; the neighbour who brings in your garbage cans; the walker who moves on to the street for you to walk safely by; the barely visible buds on the tree branches; the first snowdrop; clay roof tiles glowing in the evening light. There is no check list, only your own. Each of us has our own eye and heart for what resonates with us.
Make the best of where you are and with the way things are. Take the flashlight of your attention and go on a treasure hunt.
1:) My heart weeps for the senseless tragedy that occurred in Nova Scotia this week. I think of the many families and friends who lost their loved ones. This is my childhood province and Colchester County was my home. Many of my cousins living nearby. I am so deeply sorry. No words will ever be enough.
2:) I learn about the personal sorrows of many people brought on by Covid-19. In the midst of sadness and disappointment we all need to figure out the parts we can do something about and do the best we can. Ask for help when you need it.
3:) I have my favourite encouraging images from author Barbara Kingsolver and I give them to you once again, from her book, High Tide in Tucson, which shows how transformation can be possible.
“Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job or a limb or a loved one, a graduation, bringing a new baby home: it’s impossible to think at first how this all will be possible. Eventually, what moves it all forward is the subterranean ebb and flow of being alive among the living.
In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.”
4:) Thank you one and all for your kind notes, and comments. It is an honour to write this weekly blog for all you wonderful people who take the time to read it. I deeply appreciate you. Take care of yourselves out there and see you next week. Warmest greetings, Trudy