I encounter people, including myself, who feel hindered and a bit used and abused. I also encounter people who, including myself, frankly, could use an injection of kindness to others. We all have at one time or another probably felt like we have no control over our lives and that others have control over us…and not in a way that is positive. Rather, we may feel oppressed, suffocated, and as if there is no way out, up, or even in: just down.
What can we do about this? What if we can’t move, leave, go back to another time and place? What if there really is, in temporal terms, no actual, tangible, physical way out of a less than joyful situation?
We have to do what The Joyful Hermit has learned to do over years of practice and training. You see, The Joyful Hermit has a time-worn propensity for being in less than joyful situations and has been stuck with all kinds of earthly hindrances, just as you may find of yourself. So what’s the answer?
The Joyful Hermit chooses JOY. And once joy is chosen, it is a matter of accepting the joy that is given, for joy is always given to us once we choose it. And once we choose joy and accept joy, we then give joy. By the time we are at the stage of giving joy, we have joy for keeps. It is a matter of desiring joy, looking for joy, thinking about joy, asking for joy, finding and being given joy, living joy and then sharing joy.
You see, joy is nothing we can purchase or demand, but we can be creative and cooperative and joy can happen…for ourselves and for others. Joy is spiritual. For those of you who believe in God, joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Regardless, joy is something we can choose or not choose, and to not choose joy will only compound the sense of suffocation and the sensation that there is no way out of negativity.
Today I overheard two women talking in an aisle at the TJMaxx store. One was a white-haired, little old lady; the other was younger by ten years and dark-haired. The younger was working diligently to suffocate the older woman’s desire to purchase a cookbook.
“You don’t need any more cookbooks, ” grumped the dark-haired friend.
“But this one is called Grandmother’s Recipes,” replied the white-haired woman.
“You already have your own recipes. Consider them your book,” the younger woman pounced.
The little old lady pleaded, “But I really enjoy just looking at the beautiful photos and recipes, and it makes me feel good.”
“YOU DON’T NEED IT,” hammered the dark-haired woman.
The Joyful Hermit had listened long enough. “Isn’t TJMaxx a fun place? It is amazing, isn’t it, how much joy a $7 cookbook can bring to a person, even if the recipes are never tried? And at that price, you can gift it to someone else or sell it at a yard sale or donate it to the library used-book sale, and another person will enjoy it, too! There is sorrow enough in life. How blessed we are to grasp simple joys when we can.”
The women immediately stopped the banter and looked at The Joyful Hermit. The white-haired woman gained courage and piped, “Yes. This is an inexpensive pleasure in life and nothing to fuss about.” When asked, the dark-haired woman eagerly showed The Joyful Hermit a paper craft snow village she decided to purchase for her granddaughter.
“How special! Are there any more of those–not that I need it–” the Joyful Hermit asked the dark-haired woman (whose stance had already changed for the better). Joyful Hermit added, “Your granddaughter is surely fortunate to have a grandmother like you….”
The dark-haired woman, beaming and won over to joy by joy, chimed, “Oh yes, my granddaughter is eight but very gifted in arts and crafts….” The white-haired lady clutched the cookbook to her heart and glowed with pleasure. In total, the ladies’ purchases amounted to $11.
Our lives are not all about cooking, crafting, earning and spending money, or talking. Life is more a matter of decency, justice, peace, joy–and in loving the life we are given to live and the people with whom we live this life. The temporal tangibles are simple items that we sprinkle like salt and pepper. The people we lift up and ennoble (not discourage or control by suffocation) are a means for us also to receive joy, to give joy, and to live joy.
Choose JOY. It is in our control to be joyful; and no one can take joy away from us unless we let joy be snatched. Our health, our homes, our cars and cookbooks may fall by the wayside, but we can always have joy as a gift and to give joy as a gift.