Let me tell you a little story.
Just a little over a week ago I was so elated that my kitchen was getting a full re-do and the result was a shiny new fridge with all the bells and whistles we'd hoped for at a dramatically reduced price.
A day after I published that blog entry I noticed my cat Turtle running around the house at full-speed. He looked like he was being chased by demons. I suspected our two small dogs had chased him but he was panting and foaming at the mouth, twitching and nervously jerking his head behind him like there was something evil just past his shoulder. He was staring into the distance, not recognizing me or his surroundings.
12:30AM we were in the pet hospital emergency room with Turtle hoping the vet could tell us what was wrong. Twenty four hours and a thousand dollars later it was determined he was having seizures. Something was wrong with our poor boy's brain and he needed to get on medication right away.
Later that week I take my Mom to the doctor to get a second opinion after a prior doctor had mismanaged her case. The new doctor called for a biopsy and sent me back to pick up the tissue sample the original doctor had taken. Forms, and phone calls and faxing and transfer fees--the original doctor wasn't interested in making it easy to get a second opinion it seemed.
I'm sure Mom is ok or at least will be with the right treatment. Still, its a biopsy.
Plenty of other things were happening on other fronts--some of them needing my immediate attention or at least needing me to take notice.
In the middle of that I had scheduled myself to teach a class on my book. I had many people sign up so I knew I needed to pull it together and make the magic happen.
Mountain high to the valley of stress below.
So many feelings.
But despite how stressful it was worrying over my Mom's diagnosis and my poor cat's well being, I found myself having pockets of joy.
When I focused on the class I was going to teach or my writing projects or even the fact that in a couple of days our new fridge would be showing up real joy would show up--real visceral joy.
Feeling joy when other things felt terrible left me kind of confused. How can these things be existing in the same space? Also, getting happy over something as trivial as a major appliance made me feel a little like a bad person.
Real joy just happens. Just like real pain.
I recall every time in the past where I talked myself out of moments of happiness worried about the "something" that was bound to happen to show me the error of being in a state of bliss.
Call it what you will, but that kind of denial is an ugly superstition born of the fact that life is in constant motion and we are exposed to a variety of experiences that elicit both pleasure and pain--sometimes in close and coincidental proximity--sometimes at the same time as well.
Here is some truth. You can't escape pain by denying joy--even the joy of a simple, silly thing.
Pain happens. So does joy. Let them both in. Feel them both fully.
|Our little boy home again.|
That night Turtle slept between us. Every so often I would reach out to stroke his silky coat and feel the subtle rise and fall of his ribcage.
He was weak but hour by hour started to show that he remembered us. Eventually he treated us to his deep, contented purr. I couldn't stop my eyes from welling up--overcome with feelings of love and relief for this little soul I was sure we lost.
I don't know how long we get to have Turtle--you invite pets into your life knowing that they won't live as long as you and that someday you will lose them. I'm reminded of this every time something like this happens. But I don't stay in that thought.
I won't deny myself the joy of having Turtle with me today. I also won't spare myself the pleasure of sitting with Mom at her table for Sunday lunch. Or even the simple satisfaction of filling our new fridge with fresh produce and cold drinks. Its all good.
Do you believe in the other shoe dropping? Are you willing to give that up in favor of extra joy? Drop me a note and tell me about it. I'd love to hear from you.