the joy of being


It’s a dreary, bitterly cold Saturday afternoon. Four o’clock and it’s already getting dark. Winter is here again…in spades. But I’m happy. Not blissful, but happy in that calm, low buzzing sort of way that I can’t force, but I do attain once in awhile, unpredictably and at the oddest times.

As I write this, the three other members of my family are crashed out, taking well-deserved, or at least necessary, naps. All I can hear is the whirring of my stupid dying refrigerator, which will stop cooling any minute, meaning I’ll have to put all the food in coolers for the third time in as many weeks…but I feel supremely and stupendously above it all.

No, I did not do shots this afternoon or up my meds. It’s just one of those days where I feel grateful to be here, in this space, with these people, my people; grateful that we are all in perfect health, that we have a more-than-adequate, warm house, and that we have the resources to replace that dang refrigerator should it go ~ and not really feel the impact financially.

And believe it or not, I am really looking forward to preparing for the holidays (which I sadly often dread) and hosting a big, boisterous family Thanksgiving.

Obviously we can’t live in a state of rapture 24-7. It would be weird, and I think human innovation would have stalled thousands of years ago if it were part of our nature. A little dissatisfaction, plus a sprinkle of curiosity and a dash of genius goes a long way to prompt the invention of a faster computer, a more fuel-efficient car, or better gray-coverage hair color. Besides, I think constant, low-grade joy is something only Buddhists can achieve during intense meditation. Could be lobotomy patients feel it all the time, but have traded the ability to count to 10 for it.

No, what I’m feeling today is sustainable for only moments or days at a time for us (relatively) normal folk, and, at least in my case, it can’t be forced. It’s too hot up there close to the sun, and if you stay too long, your wing-wax starts to melt, and you tumble to earth anyway. Which hurts. Substance abusers know this all too well, I’d bet. Heck if we felt happy all the time, how would we know that we were happy if there were nothing else to compare it to?

So, I gather in this moment like a precious bead, string it next to the others I keep ~ the pretty, the heartwrenching, the interesting, the enlightening ~ and store it in a temperature-controlled part of my soul. Because I know tomorrow, or even by five o’clock when everyone is up and crabby after their late naps, I’ll need it in crystallized, preserved form, a talisman-moment of clarity about all that’s right and important in my world minus the meaningless difficult and confusing details of daily life.

And when I’m breaking bread with the bigger clan on Thanksgiving, I’ll quietly pull out my beads and, one by one, give thanks for each little flash of what life on this gorgeous planet is really like without those smudged glasses we’re given too soon after birth.

And I will give thanks for something deeper: a newly realized belief that each of those beads, as real as the turkey on the table, gave me a view into what heaven must be like. Through them, I think I know that when we’ve shuffled off this mortal (not to mention refrigerator-) coil, we can fully and truly know the joy of being and what is, without needs, wants, pain or fear.

Happy Thanksgiving, my dears.

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