The Joyful Skill.
When I committed to creating more and building my website again, I took some time to look at what I already had and take note of everything I wanted to improve.
As a perfectionist, the first answer was "everything".
But that's not realistic, and it's not helpful to set impossible goals. I think there's a piece of every perfectionist that self sabotages by expecting the impossible so that they inevitably "fail" and then can justify refusing to be kind to yourself.
Being kinder to myself is one of my big goals to work on. It is in that mindset that I frame all my smaller goals. One of the smaller goals was to write more about joy. I hate that I mostly create while on the precipice of doom. I do not believe that good art only comes from pain. I believe that joy is more powerful than sorrow.
Side note. That isn't meant to imply that what I'm doing here is art.
Mostly it's just me trying to tread water through creative energy until I can reach land. I hate inner work. I'd rather trick myself to process feelings by funneling them through some kind of skill instead of actually feeling them.
The joke is on me.
Writing down the stuff you don't talk about is like feeling it twice. Because after you feel it, you have to translate it into something that kind of makes sense on paper. And hell, I barely make sense in any sense!
Nonetheless, here we are finally taking some time celebrate joy.
I think people in despair are often afraid to recognize their joy, because they feel it will somehow undermine their pain. And it hurts when people don't validate our suffering, so we get defensive and don't risk defiling the merit of our pain. Thus, we subdue our small joys and victories. But these intense feelings can coexist! You are human and complex by nature. You can feel and be so many different things at once. The nuance of human emotion is incredible, and while it doesn't necessarily always feel great- it is something to marvel.
If it wasn't possible to feel any joy in sadness, then what would be the driving force to keep us going? Being able to find something that makes you smile even a tiny tiny bit, while suffering deeply takes courage and strength. Smiling is resistance.
And to be clear, I don't mean smile through your pain to hide it. I mean that recognizing your ability to find joy or hope enough in a terrible situation is a superpower.
You can see bigger than yourself and beyond present time. You are your own soothsayer by acknowledging that this isn't all there is.
Learning to look for and find small joy in our lives is a life saving skill. I'm working on it.
I hope you are too.
Here's a list of a things that bring me joy- no matter how small.
I'd love to know some of yours!
Matcha. How soft babies are. Sun lamps. The sun. Astronomy. Labels and being organized. Cute silverware. Tiny silverware. Tiny versions of big things. Dinosaurs. Horror movies. Snow caps. Sitting on the porch. Dodge Challengers. Cheese hot dogs. Getting emails from friends. The way my mouth feels when I say "falafel". The sound of Japanese or Mandarin. Inuit and Mongolian throat singing. Big cozy dogs. Lap cats. Otters holding hands. Walking into museums. Picking flowers and putting them in my hair. Driving at night in the summer. Hitting baseballs. Being muscly. Ultraman. Kikaida. The 1970s. The Cheers theme song. The jokes at the end of Welcome Back, Kotter. Halloween themed decor. Little plants. Hibiscus flowers. Tatami. World folk music. Recycling. Saving little bugs from being stepped on. Reading print newspapers. Listening to baseball games on the radio. Holding hands. White tees. Umbrellas. Tall rain boots. Tattoos. Punny jokes. Strawberry milk. Chocolate milk. Almond milk. Oat milk. Lady Grey tea. Nero Wolfe books and tv series. Westerns. Simple stripes on clothing. Wandering cemeteries. The way the Phoenician language evolved. Celebrating other people's birthdays. Gas station food. Doing facemasks. The beauty mark on my ear. My Predator joggers. Hats. Leaving quarters in toy vending machines for kids. Shop decorations. Neon lights. Hugging a heavy bag after punching it. Triceratops. Watching VHS. Non fiction books about history. TV/Movie cookbooks. Hearing people I love laugh. Drawing faces on pancakes with food. Rolled towels. Stickers. Fortune cookies. Antique skeleton keys. Buying cool stamps. Rythym video games. Taking silly pictures. Puppets.
And the list goes on.
Seeing how long this is and all of it is easy? That makes me feel good for a moment. Even if I am just living from one tiny smile to the next, there are things I am reminded that I don't want to miss.
Joy is beautiful. But when you learn to use it against unrelenting sadness, you have turned it into power.
Go find your power.