In what places and ways do you seek to carve out joy? Do you attempt to find pleasure and affirmation through vices or have you committed to doing the inner work to avoid these troubling shortcuts to fleeting satisfaction? How often do you let joy pursue you, unexpectedly and by surprise, in both the grand and seemingly mediocre? The beauty of joy is that it’s universal. It belongs to you and me, to everyone everywhere, right in this moment, as you are.
We all enjoy being on the receiving end of a present- perhaps there comes a distinct moment however when giving a gift is the real marvel to behold. Vulnerable, wild excitement. Hands that shake as they fumble with tape, wrapping and ribbons. I see that as a marker of maturity. The ability to find equal pleasure in living vicariously through another.
I wonder if the damage seeping into the essence of society and our communities is to do with our means of replicating the feeling behind receiving a gift. We are used to taking, filling up, extruding, chasing, squeezing, pursuing relentlessly. We have a tendency to wring the life out of people and things that matter to us, creating a domino effect of disruption and leaving collateral damage in our wake. All this to replicate the wonder we felt as children opening gifts at Christmas. Such a pure scene.
If you long for the wonder of a miracle, you are not alone. I also wish to witness the grand and exciting, to feel my blood zing, my eyes grow wide, my body shake animatedly. In our pursuit of what is glorious, we become short sighted and develop tunnel vision. We tame and domesticate our innature nature and let each day, hour, minute and second pass by as if being alive and breathing is not a gift waiting to be unwrapped by us, wanting to be embraced and held and witnessed. I promise that the wild and holy exists right at your fingertips, sustained by the essence of life and passion.
Thich Nhat Hanh said: “People usually consider walking on water or on thin air a miracle. What if the miracle was not to walk on water or thin air but to walk on earth? Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognise. A beautiful blue sky, pure white colours, green leaves, the sparkling curious eyes of a child, our own two eyes. All is a miracle, is it not?”
Let the Christmas season serve as a reminder and reorientation to the fact that divinity is used to doing what is considered impossible work right in the cells and atoms that render the world + our body and being living. The wonder that blooms inside us as we watch a friend or loved one unwrap a carefully chosen present is in the exchange of generosity and wonder. We become invested in their lives and the additions we contribute towards their happiness and wellbeing. It’s not so much the gift that brings joy as it is the room created by the gift for the receiver to have an experience.
Perhaps we find ourselves in this universe, this life and this world because the creator is making room and space for joy to take up and flow abundantly. God is used to presenting himself in ways we can relate to, showing up in the world through you and me. He is present as the sun rises and sets, the flowers bud and bloom. Let’s spend our time unravelling this layer by layer. Anne Lamont once said “The miracle is that we are here, that no matter how undone we’ve been the night before, we wake up every morning and are still here. It is phenomenal just to be.”
There is nothing ordinary about existence. Even if we were capable of walking on water or thin air, the true miracle would be in coming back down to earth, to the elements, to the blood and breath that flows. Witness what is taking place inside of you, from you, around you. Consider that the root of beauty is beautiful choices. You are made by them, nothing more and nothing less. Beauty exists in such a way that it cannot be separated from the process and regiment that creates it. The two are hopelessly intertwined, interconnected. They are not independent of each other.
Looking, feeling and being better starts with the choices you make everyday. It begins with your commitment, strength and quiet dedication to remaining firm in what is right. Choose kindness over selfishness, mercy over vengeance, serenity over a swiftness to anger. It’s in what you eat, the groceries over the fast food. It’s in how you speak to others, the way you gate keep your words. It’s in how often you pick up a book or journal over the television remote.
It’s in the thoughts you allow to live rent free in your mind. It’s in whether you stand up for what’s right, no matter who is or isn’t watching. It’s about stepping into another’s shoes and acknowledging that your good fortunate could turn in a moment, it’s in being charitable and lending a helping hand to someone who needs it. It’s in the hours you put in, the causes you lend yourself to, the standards you are held by. There is no escaping the exercise, discipline and sacrifice it takes.