Allowing Joy To Find Me

May 1, 2020

Nogal House

Indian Divide, New Mexico

Allowing Joy to Find Me

Today I will allow joy to find me

I will allow myself the state of grace

That the universe always has to offer.

I will take pause for a moment

And breathe deeply of the day

Feast my eyes on the beauty

Of sun, sky, earth and light

And think of nothing else.

I have searched all my life

For that joyful place in spirit

The peaceful respite from work and worry

Often enough I been surrounded by that

But mourned when it was absent.

It has taken me years to realize

That the joyfulness was a constant

And that it was me who interrupted it.

Today I will allow joy to find me.

These last few weeks have been a learning curve for all of us. The forced confinement and solitude presented challenges for us which I never would have anticipated. I have lived alone for the past four years and for much of the time preceding that. I am accustomed to solitude and enjoy the lack of distractions. Still yet, I had a routine which kept me from being too alone and I ventured out at will. Having to stay at home and distance myself from those people I choose to share my time with created a void that was hard to fill. In addition, the inability to move forward and pursue my plans added a sense of inertia I am equally unaccustomed to. I am a goal driven person and I operate best under pressure, even if that is as simple as just paying my bills each month. I am always working at and towards something and the reward of the returns from that effort affirm my actions. When the entire process came to a screaming halt I had to devise other ways to maintain my momentum.

Those first few days were filled with a flurry of effort. I did all the things I felt I needed to do to prepare for the duration of this pandemic while not knowing just how long that would be. I shopped and stored food, planted an early garden, stripped and rearranged my living room and built an art table by the window. Then I stopped and couldn’t get going again. My creativity and motivation left the room and for a long moment I struggled. If I rarely get depressed I suddenly had to deal with that also and there was little opportunity to escape myself. I started cutting wood instead, which helped as it got me outside, kept me active and brought a return I could put my hands on. I gradually adjusted and have spent a good part of my time since being creative and active. I have adjusted my diet and exercise routine and devotedly bettered myself. Physically I am as healthy as I have been in the last few years and I intend to stay that way.

Having achieved some basic goals I have now turned my attention to my spiritual needs. I am usually a pretty happy person even if I whine on occasion. Having had to reassess my approach to life within the confines of my solitude I have now had to develop a new approach to things. Where before I could jump in my truck and go socialize or take a road trip I have had to bring the happiness to me instead. Where it is easy to adjust ones diet, especially without the temptation of convenience stores or restaurants to contend with, addressing my spiritual needs is more of a challenge. I can pray daily and often, which I do, and remain grateful for everything, but I need something more. I can walk the hills as I have and find much solace, and reflect on my journal entries from better times and find the direction I require, but joyfulness is evasive. It has been my morning and evening prayers which brought me back to center and offered the key to that joyfulness I seek.

Years ago I returned to a peaceful place deep in the Alamosa Canyon in the Monticello Box. The entire stretch of that creek bottom is spectacular but there is one place in particular that always thrilled me. It is a narrow stretch of the creek where the road is in the water and the rock walls of the canyon are narrow and close. I have parked there many times just to take pause and immerse myself in the beauty. It was in one such moment, surrounded by the utter stillness of the place that I realized that that spot had remained untouched and unchanged, aside from drought and flood, for all the time it had existed. It will always be that way as there is nothing anyone can do to change that and the ensuing floods would restore it to its present state in one fell sweep. Beauty and joy are much like that place. They remain a constant, always. The mountains that surround my perch will always be here. The sun and the sky, the contour of the earth, the birdsong outside my door will always exist here. If I am joyless it is because I am not allowing those things to get through to me. I have to allow that joy to find me because I cannot find it otherwise. It is my responsibility to remove all of the distractions from my mind and spirit so that the joy can fill that space. If I do not it cannot exist.

There has been the threat of sickness, death and suffering surrounding us for months now. The news is inundated with every possible scenario of these things and it is almost inescapable. I followed it closely for weeks and allowed it to dominate my life. What about New York where my sister lives? What about Japan where my oldest son and his family live? What if I get sick, and will I survive? Am I sick? I drove to California the end of February and flew back from there on March 3. Those next two weeks were worrisome and even after that it seemed that every time I went somewhere those two weeks started all over again. Now I barely read the news or check statistics. I wear a mask in public places and sanitize my hands continuously. I am still very concerned but far less fearful than I was. All of this has become a familiar routine. My garden is up and growing and I feel like I have been through the worst of it. I am prepared for the future, as uncertain as that may be.

I am allowing joyfulness to find me. I have stripped off the layers of worry and distraction and rediscovered my basic necessities. I have learned to fill my time from day to day and how to fill the voids in my solitude. I make phone calls to friends and make it a point to get to town a little more often so I can socialize a bit. The fearfulness has eased as we have been so blessed to not to have much sickness here. By nature there is a lot of space between us and people have been mindful also. Nobody wants to get sick and we have made the adjustments we had to avoid that. I am reminded of that blessing each and every day. I have always been glad I left New York but I am now certain that it was a good choice! I would take utter solitude over crowded streets at any time, but especially now. Dawn came quietly this morning with a bank of clouds to the east shielding the horizon. I watched as the sun broke over the haze of moisture and then dissipated it into the air. I listened closely to the various birds songs and watched as the ravens traveled west on their morning flight. I built a small fire to heat my water and went out to water the garden. The fresh young sprouts promise many good meals and the sustenance I require. They also bring joy to me. Their bright green leaves, as with the glowing white blossoms of the iris and pink of the apache plume fill my heart with happiness. The water sparkles in in the morning sun as I moisten the soil on each plant. These are all simple things but they remain a constant no matter what is going on in the rest of the world. I have been confined here long enough to realize how important their presence is and that there isn’t, and never has been much more that I required. When one removes all of the distractions and interference all that remains is that joyfulness we thought that we were looking for! It has found me once again.

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