Finding Joy

It was 4:30 this morning. Our new pup was asleep on my chest. A half hour before he had awoken me to go out for his “necessaries.” Now, I lay in bed remembering the joy he showed as he bounded through the early morning snow.

I remembered my exuberant joy as a child. How do I breakthrough my adult and disease barriers to reclaim something that feels as valuable as that wildly exuberant joy?

This joy is valuable because:

  • it feels so close to God
  • it allows me to see the world more clearly (i.e. with fewer filters)
  • it helps bring joy to others
  • and it’s more fun for me.

My major adult barriers are:

  • financial insecurities
  • feeling that I “should” be helping others more
  • not feeling that I know enough/am enough to truly help people.

My disease barriers are an ever-changing kaleidoscope of problems. Many of these I’ve talked about before: intense pain, extremely foggy mind, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, poor balance. Most of these come and go except for the pain and difficulty breathing.

The latest addition for my disease barrier to joy is, for me, a particularly nasty one.

When I was young, I had polio. It was “cured.” But it left many long-lasting effects. I’ve written about my troubles breathing because the polio damaged my diaphragm. Within the past few weeks this damage has caused a secondary problem: each time I breathe my diaphragm hurts, a lot.

So how do I put aside the emotional/mental effects so that I can tap into the joy of being close to God?

I get closest when I write, or teach, or do deep research to help society be better (see my Narrative Leadership website). But these barriers, especially the disease barriers, make this extremely difficult.

The task I’ve set myself of reclaiming my joy seems like a wonderful task, well worth the effort. I don’t know how to do this, but it feels like my life’s trajectory has set me up to carry out this goal.

In the meantime, I’ll just bask in the reflected glow of my new puppy’s joy.

Foggy Days

Days like today are traumatic.

Most of us who are over 40 have times when it’s difficult to remember or think clearly. But this is different.

Today, I am lost within my foggy mind. Today words get lost in the fog. Words like “refrigerator,” “door,” and “broom” just won’t appear when needed.

I’m also lost in space. In our little, temporary, home (all of 225 ft.²) I can’t seem to find where the door is or the refrigerator. There’s no panic like being lost in the woods. It’s just that nothing seems familiar, neither this cabin we’ve been living in for a year and half or my mind trying to find words in this brain I’ve been using (on and off) for the past 65 years.

This is the first time in the last six months or so that I’ve been lost in the fog. I don’t know what brings this on, nor what will make it go away.

I’d like to be able to say that writing this post is a stream of consciousness effort, but it’s not really. I really don’t have a stream of consciousness. That is, that there is no flow from one thought or one paragraph to another thought or paragraph.

Writing in any intelligible form is an immense effort to maintain a deep writing meditation. I imagine this will require a lot of editing, but I feel that it’s important to share what it’s like to have aphasia along with some other stuff. [“Aphasia is a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate. It can affect your ability to speak, write and understand language, both verbal and written.” Mayo Clinic]

On these foggy days it’s difficult, and sometimes impossible, to think things through:

When the peanut butter, jelly, and bread are on the table with a butter knife in my hand, what do I do next and where’s the butter knife?

With my wife asking me how were going to pay for snow tires for car, how do I add $400 and $500, and what’s a “snow tire,” and I know she was asking me a question but what was it?

My wife says “Hey Hon, there’s more carrots in the refrigerator that’s in your office.” [Yes, I share my office with a refrigerator, a pantry, a water heater, a washer and dryer, and the freezer.] But my mind freezes when she says the word “refrigerator.” I hear the word but I don’t know what it means and I can’t ask her because I can’t say the word, no matter how hard I try.

These are just three of the myriad of things that happened to me today in this foggy world.

I used to get very disturbed by losing my way in the world and in my thoughts. But that didn’t lead me anywhere near joy. So I searched, and thought, and prayed, and I found the blessing.

I’m a brilliant guy with a good heart. But viewing the world from this honored place is not where the majority of people live. Living in this fog has helped me realize how very special that other place is and how much I want to use those abilities, to be of service to others.

I guess I’m done because my mind is going into a deeper fog. I need to go lay down and take care of myself.