JOMO – FOMO – and other musings

A Little Playful

This has been a full week of big and small moments – all special. Visiting my dear friend, who no longer can live at home, Lunar New Year family and friends celebration, being told by a neighbour that I make them happy every Wednesday, hosting a Creativity Cafe, watching the Super Bowl (not really my thing) with my family, and getting caught up in their enjoyment not to mention my walks, zoom calls, grandkids, Wellspring webinars, and all the other things that are part of my daily life.

So, on Sunday afternoon, I chose JOMO – the joy of missing out – as my operative word and cancelled two workshops that I was looking forward to attending. I surprised myself as one of them was a creativity workshop, and the second was a reading with former American Poet Laureate Richard Blanco and his new book. I was looking forward to the sketching and to the new poet, so it seemed a little crazy not to go.

Here is the thing – I could have fit them in. I would have enjoyed both. I didn’t want to miss them. Yet, I chose not to attend.

My gut suggested that I needed some empty space. So, I didn’t go. Sometimes, we cancel things because we don’t want to do it. But JOMO, for me, is also learning to cancel things that I would absolutely enjoy, but my body/mind would prefer some restfulness, a walk in the brisk air, or, God forbid, a nap.  Saying YES is easy for me; it’s in my DNA. But as I live longer, I discover that now and then, declining delightful invitations is equally important.

And each of us gets to choose.

We all know, by now, what FOMO represents – the fear of missing out. We joke about it and teasingly label others with the acronym. Yet, like so many things, it can become an emotional and mental hardship when taken to the extreme.

I hadn’t given it much thought until recently, as it didn’t apply to me. Or so I thought.

It didn’t apply to me because of my limited observations of what I thought people feared missing out on. Things like invites to events, not committing to one invitation in case something better came along, or the latest restaurant that some friends went to and you didn’t. It might also be that you went to a party that you didn’t want to go to. Why?  Possibly a familial duty or to avoid feeling left out the next day when other friends or colleagues talked about it.  Variations of FOMO have become real for many without conscious awareness. We are all impacted by our cultural conditioning.

Left Out

As I thought about this, I realized there are other examples where you can be “left out” if you don’t conform. Consider cancer. A wonderful woman told me about a surprising difficulty she encountered with cancer – the expectation that she would do yoga, listen to meditative music and never have a glass of wine again. In her particular cohort, these were norms. Although they were not hers, she felt compelled to accommodate them in order to be accepted. Yet, when she eventually and boldly took steps to do what she thought was best – listen to heavy metal, stop yoga,  and have that glass of wine, she experienced unadulterated joy. She consciously made a new decision that was better for her.

One of my favourite writers, Oliver Burkeman, is a fan of JOMO. He looks at the “joy of missing out,”  as the outcome of saying no to things that don’t really matter in order to say yes to things that do. I, too, see it that way as a finite human being. But to my surprise, last Sunday, I discovered a nuance that hadn’t struck me up until then – that sometimes JOMO means saying no to meaningful things as well, in order to listen to our bodymind and rest in the luxury of non-participation. That little respite allowed me to enjoy the evening with my family, and that mattered the most.

Not Exempt

I need to add that I am not exempt from FOMO. When it comes to books, poetry, and learning, I see that I try to cram too much in. It has always been this way. But I am not chastising myself going forward. Quite frankly, I consider it progress that I did miss out on Sunday and I benefitted.

Ikkyu (1394-1481) a monk and poet wrote this tiny verse in his 87th year that I find relevant here:

Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,

But at the peak

We all gaze at the

Single bright moon.

It is so very easy for individuals and small groups to believe that “someone” knows best. And for us to be accepted, we are expected to agree. Although Ikkyu was writing about different religions, I see it as a metaphor for different ways of thinking and being in our ordinary lives. For those of us in the “end zone” it can be a time to stop, look, observe and trust our own experience. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Being our gracious, generous and interdependent selves, we can experiment and, with new information, change our minds. Now, that just might be happiness.


1:) In the Year of the Dragon, this is a lovely two-minute video from MD Anderson (the # one hospital in the US for cancer care)  worth watching. Although it has nothing to do with the Lunar New Year that we just celebrated on Saturday evening, it seems perfect to me as a celebration of creativity, beauty, community, meaning and healing.   Watch here.

2:) The banner photo is a collage by Patricia Ryan Madson, one of my favourite humans. The sweet dragon is a free internet photo.

3:) Zentangles are easy, fun, as creative as you like and good for your brain and well-being. The philosophy is “anything is possible, one stroke at a time.” There is tons of information on the internet, but here is a link to a short beginner’s video. Priya Art Gallery

4:) Always, always, I think about, talk to and learn about people who are suffering and knocked off balance by difficult news. I wish you strength and courage to cope with whatever you face. I know we can all do these hard things, and it is also important to ask for help. We are here to help and be helped. It is part of being alive. Take heart and take care. All my best wishes and sincere thanks for taking the time to read these musings. Gratefully, Trudy

6 replies
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Honestly, Lynn, I was so surprised by your exuberance that I was smiling for the rest of the day. And now I am smiling again. Thank you. What a neighbour!! Trudy

  1. Pat Fream
    Pat Fream says:

    Trudy, once again you have filled my heart with loving kindness and furnished my mind with blossoming thoughts. What a wild and wonderful thing it is to be human and here with you!

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi dear Pat: How lovely to get your sweet and encouraging note. I love your expression, “blossoming thoughts.” You are such a poet. Hope to see you in Calgary in early May. Warmly, Trudy

  2. Janice+Falls
    Janice+Falls says:

    Brilliant post yet again dear Trudy. What I am missing out on is spending time with you, so what do you say to a coffee/walk visit soon? I would have had a hard time letting go of Richard Blanco’s reading but I wasn’t aware of it. This does make me more aware of my book and poem FOMO 🙂
    big hugs xoxo

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thanks dear Janice. You are as faithful as my Mother, when it comes to reading my blog. So enjoyed our breakfast date and looking forward to a book from you. As always, Trudy


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