12 Jul Finding Your Joy Spot | You Named It What?
People ask why name your book, Finding Your Joy Spot? I hear you. Perhaps odd.
Joy isn’t always around, as I began to become a student of it’s goodness I would notice it show up in spots. These spots serve different purposes at different times.
I can’t sum up the grace of Joy and the grounding it brings, much better than I did in chapter 21. The day that my son had the same brain surgery that my mom died of complications from. Joy felt it saved my life and kept me upright that day. Here it is.
The Joy Ride
It wasn’t your average joy ride. It felt more like a roller coaster, strapped in and with g-forces on the turns and dives that would snap your head back. It was a ride through the illness of a child but one that taught me so much.
We got up at 4:30 a.m., and as I sat next to my 18-year-old son in the car, I felt like I was bringing a soldier to war.
He was quiet and determined as we arrived at the hospital, and I felt an overwhelming weight on my shoulders as they prepped him for brain surgery. I could do nothing to help him. He was truly a soldier-calm, stoic, brave and genuine to who he is-kind and courageous.
He was having a dangerously located brain tumour removed. It wasn’t a random one. He bore not only his own worries but the weight of our family history. He’d lost his grandmother well before his birth to the same kind of tumour and he has an uncle who has suffered greatly from many of the same surgeries and been left with physical challenges because of them.
My son was totally aware that not everyone came out “OK” after that kind of operation and not everyone even makes it.
As we waited for him to be rolled into the surgical suite, he asked me to take a picture of his “virgin” head-scar free and whole, knowing it would never be the same and it would bear the mark of his suffering and, ultimately, his healing.
A beautiful older male nurse asked if we had any questions and looked at my son’s father and me with such loving intensity. The nurse said, “Don’t worry, we will take good care of your boy.”
His gaze gave me strength and I felt a divine brush from his reassuring words.
We said goodbye to our beloved boy, our man-child, our deeply courageous soldier.
Where was the joy in this ride?
It was there, like little lights in the darkness, bringing with its brief bright patches.
Our family was surrounded by loved ones who came from all over to help us pass the time as the surgery took place. Like doulas, our family and friends helped us in what otherwise would have been a slow, anguishing journey.
It takes courage to walk alongside those who suffer, yet they showed up; drove from hours away to stand alongside us in our angst and to silently be with us.
There was joy in that support.
Like quiet sparks of joy, knowing we were not alone; we were loved, and we were held in a divine grace that walked alongside us in the most troubled times.
The nurse came down every 90 minutes after peeking in on the surgery to tell us that he was doing OK. My baby, with his head, cracked open, was more vulnerable than most have ever been.
There was a hint of joy in the updates.
When the surgeon called to say he was doing well, and he might have some trouble with balance and walking, but he was “well.”
There was joy in his words. He was OK; that was all that mattered.
When we got to see him right after surgery, his suffering was more than I could bear. I well up right now just thinking of his anguish and of watching the nurse doing whatever we asked to ease my boy’s pain.
There was joy in her willingness.
Not the kind of joy that makes you jump up and down like you’ve won the lottery, but deep gratitude for small mercies. Small graces that make the most intolerable situations more tolerable.
Joy has different faces, and when we know those different aspects of joy, we notice it more often.
When, after a brutal night of inadequate pain meds, the medical team stepped in to alleviate his pain, and he slept, a nurse clapped her hands and jumped up and down.
There was joy in her jumping. (I love her!)
When he got up and walked, albeit wobbly, two days after the surgery, there was joy.
Joy is different than happiness although they are closely related. Joy contains an aspect of happiness, but it is more deeply rooted, rooted in the good earthy, visceral goodness that is available to all of us despite tragedy and pain. We just need to be willing to notice it.
It’s the hand on your shoulder that says, “I’m here with you.”
It’s fruit that your friend brings to the hospital, and when you put it in your mouth you feel a burst of delight.
Joy doesn’t fix things or change the fact that you ate that fruit as you held your loved one’s hand while he was in a hospital bed, but it is the lubrication that keeps us moving on the hardest of days and we miss out on it if we aren’t present to its fleeting touch.
There was joy watching my son navigate stairs and doing it without the help of the cane that was needed earlier in his recovery. There is pain in healing but so much joy in the little miracles along the way.
Years have passed since this ride began, since the day that scarred not only him but all of us in a way. There has been joy on this roller coaster ride that is more profoundly and deeply felt than I’ve ever known.
I would not ask for suffering like that again but if it does present itself, I trust that there will be joy spots there to give me enough of its elixir to keep moving and trusting, even on the most difficult of days.
Joy is not the absence of pain-there will always be pain and stress. Joy does become more readily available when we lean into the pain and feel all that we feel. Pain, when we wrestle with it and feel all that it brings, burrows valleys in our hearts; deep crevices that are capable of producing wellsprings of joy.
When we avoid or numb out pain and the emotions that we are less comfortable with, we also numb and lessen the capacity we have for the emotions we long for like love, happiness, and joy. In a way, pain can serve us and does carve out more room for joy.
Joy-it’s not here just for me or for a fortunate few. It’s here for you too. The world is hungry for more of it and it is available for all of us. It may be lingering in the corners of our lives but it’s there. It requires presence and gratitude to lock it in more deeply.
Will you create space for it, even when you are caught up in the darkness of pain?
Joy may be all we have to inject the wee bit of strength we need to keep moving forward. My wish for you today, and everyday, is that you will see it, feel it, and know it, and that somehow the miracle of joy will light your path on the darkest of days.
Lean into the pain you might be experiencing, give yourself permission to feel all those feelings and also take the time to notice where joy shows up too. It makes the burden lighter.
Reflect on a difficult time. Recall the situation, the anguish, the loss. Take the time to reflect on all of it, and also look for the spots of joy that you experienced during that time.
Was there anything or anyone who helped ease the pain or let the light in, even for a brief moment during that time?
Savour all of it; the hard times that you persevered through and the little spaces where grace carried you.
Beloved, do you need more grace that joy brings to the places that ache? I know that longing. Joy can bring you back home. This book can provide you with the relief you long for. It has me. I use it’s tools and techniques every single day of my life. I would not know resilience without it’s provision. www.findingyourjoypots.com