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.

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1 thought on “Finding Joy”

  1. Rob,

    I think you are looking too large. Your puppy knows no bounds, doesn’t know pain, doesn’t know that the world can hurt. You do.

    I honestly believe that you have joy already, but you aren’t looking in the right places, you shield yourself from it. Part of you wants trumpets and fanfare. You want your whole world to be butterflies and rainbow!, But the joy is with you all the time, just …. it doesn’t shout.

    There is the joy of your marriage to a beautiful and wonderful woman who loves you as much as you love her.

    There is the joy you have shared in the talent you have exhibited, in art, in engineering, in management, in God; the joy that you have shared with others, much to their delight and edification.

    There is the joy of seeing Mt. Jefferson, standing watch over your valley, like an elderly statesman.

    The joy or finding a wolf den on your property, knowing that you have given respite to one of God’s creatures for a time.

    There is the joy of philosophy that you have shared with me, a deeper understanding of the universe and how we interact with it.

    The joy of a painfully beautiful, cloudless day.

    There is the joy of sitting by a burbling stream. Of holding so still that you can hear the trees sing. The joy of a simple dinner with friends, a glass of wine, a candlelight dinner. A gentle snowfall.

    There is the joy of friendship and love of all those who you touch. We are all richer for knowing you. If you can’t feel the joy of that, then please know that we do.

    Your favorite sister.