A couple of weeks ago I heard myself say to someone something that I have said countless times over the last….well, since Tom died. I’m going to quote myself, knowing it isn’t exact but let’s pretend it is. It is close enough …”Look, I find myself content. I am even happy, a lot, actually. But Joy? That’s over for me. I just accept it”
I immediately had an urge to vomit.
Think about that. I have been saying words to that effect for just about 12 years. And in the last 7 I have studiously understood that words count. Every year I choose a word and let it work it’s magic on me, teach me what it needed to, allowed it to move or change me. A WORD. I have deeply understood the power of words since I was a child, both to my advantage and disadvantage. And yet I was blithely speaking this statement of fact, continuously placing that conviction out into the Universe, allowed to float free.
Look, it’s not completely false. When Tom died joy did too, at least anything that seemed to resemble what I knew as joy. I think (hope) it is/was an honest mistake.
But I’m going to find out.
I am going to choose Joy. I am choosing JOY as my word of the year. I am choosing to allow Joy, even if only as a concept, back into my life. I am choosing to find out if I was right, or if, as I suspect, Joy can shift and change just as all emotions can, and that I will find my new Joy in life. I am choosing to look back and see the way Joy may have been present in my life and the countless ways I have dismissed it (although I promise that rumination will be short-lived; actually I may already be through it). The idea that I have denied myself the right to be Joyful? Well, “we shall not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it”…meaning I will face it, own it and move the fuck on!
I’m not doing my usual dramatic roll-out of my word this year. It’s December 25 and I am drinking my favorite holiday tea, aptly named Joy. Eating clementines like it’s my job and listening to KCRW’s yearly 4 hour Christmas Becomes Eclectic broadcast. I’m texting silly Bitmojis to friends and feeling…well, content? happy? Maybe a little joyful?
I went to a Winter Solstice get-together on the 21st. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go because it was aimed toward the light, and I have always been about the dark. But it was wonderful. I left feeling lighter and clearer on what I have been repeating in my yoga class this month : that joy and sadness CAN exist side by side. They don’t have to balance each other out, or one negate the other. It’s not an Either/ Or proposition, its an And/Both.
Yesterday, Christmas Eve, my family came over for brunch. It’s a tradition and it was lovely. Even Wonder Boy made it, which was the very best part. As a chef he’s not usually available, but he was here yesterday. He set up everything while I taught a beautiful yoga class (lets talk about the Joy teaching is bringing me!) and I made it home just as people were pulling up. When it was over and everyone left I was faced with my yearly task of cleaning up. Alone. So I cranked the Xmas tunes and cleaned up and cried, also part of the tradition.
But it was different. I already had chosen my word so the tears were different. Sure, I’ve lost a lot. Years ago Xmas Eve was the day I was proposed to. But I remembered it with joy and gratitude, even through the tears. And realize that I have felt that every year, despite myself.
There are other changes happening, all life, Lifey-Life as some friends and I have dubbed it. Change can also be good even though I have spent an inordinate amount if time fearing it. Maybe finding the Joy in it will help me embrace it. I mean, my life is so completely different than I would have ever expected it to be, and even though I may have fought it every step of the way, its pretty damn sweet!
Anyway, it really doesn’t matter when I pick my word or when I roll it out. I really didn’t need to think about this, I knew the moment that JOY popped into my head (right after Thanksgiving) that it would be my word. It scared me, but that doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve accepted it for a couple weeks, and I’ve shared with dear friends because why not. It’s time. As always, I don’t know what the year will bring, or how the word will work me and I it. I am always surprised in some way or other. I’m not going to say I don’t have ideas of what I’d like this year, but as always, will attempt to have no expectations.
I do hope I’ll write more. I do hope the part of my joy will be re-finding, or just finding a voice here. But it may not. Interestingly, I’m finding a voice in real life, and that feels suspiciously like joy. That’s one of my reasons for not waiting. I want to invite it now because, well, frankly, it seems to be already here.
YES, ENOUGH, OPEN, FREE, CURIOUS, TRUST and NOW