Even when it seems like it is....
My joy is your newsletter and its heartfelt words. It is writing every morning with good coffee. The sunrises and the sunsets and the promise of snow. Kind words of friends and an unexpected laugh.
It is always an interesting dilemma when we learn something about our parents we have never seen. I wonder if we know people at all sometimes.
Thank you for the thoughts.
Waking up early enough to see Red Mars sitting on top of Blue Mountain. Fresh coffee. My dohg. Being kind to friends and strangers alike. Reading great local authors like yourself who increase my sense of place. Cheers.
I was raised in a dysfunctional environment and programmed to self-destruct. Joy never once entered into it, but there was always too much spirit in me to kill. I used to say my goal in life was to live long enough to be okay—the thing is though, I always was. Sweeney sounds a lot like my wife. I never thought I'd get to be as old as fuck and feel this way.
Chris, your struggle with accepting all the threads of your life resonates for me. I, too, am practicing finding joy or gratitude in what is. Yes, it sounds like a cliche. No, I find it difficult some days. Thank you for this and your other posts.
Joy is my beautiful dog, Cailie and her sensitive and intelligent brown eyes. Joy is watching the magnificent sunrises and sunsets of the Colorado front range. The last few mornings have brought tremendous joy because the sky is clear and the stars brilliant- the wild fires in Colorado are smaller. My horse, Mariah brings me joy with her happy little whiny when she sees me.
Planting a bed of garlic. Playing I Ride an Old Paint on my banjo. Watching Midnight Diner. And sitting on the deck with Joe and our pup Polly. A white moon singing.
Joy is giving my dogs their peanut butter cookie in the morning. Joy is a cup of coffee while cuddling under a blanket on a cold morning . Joy is simply waking up everyday and thanking God for my blessing .
Chris, this is so, so, so good. Dogs, definitely. Hikes with the dogs too. Laughter with my girlfriends. Reading with David in the living room or outside in the yard. Talking to my nieces on FaceTime. Cooking like crazy--just made a squash and black bean enchiladas to put in the oven a little later. I also just got back from a road trip to Utah and Colorado and driving around the West fills me with joy. So does your writing.
Sometimes I do a lovingkindness meditation on my walk, and recently I did one and I made myself do a layer on everyone in Washington, and I found out that I really do wish that their hearts were filled with love. I really, REALLY do.
I just wrote a piece like this for the SF Chronicle -- https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Square-nails-and-old-redwood-An-essay-on-15618085.php?fbclid=IwAR3kTb1u_jTORf54mQ0zcklYqgpYwIACO-NztdFlrOSq-0kcUYRb7FsMnnw
I joined the Catholic church as an adult, after an emotionally abusive childhood, college sexual assault and undiagnosed PTSD. I thought at the time that a place that had a Jesus with bloody crown of thorns was a place that understood suffering, and that I might be seen by God. I stayed for about 20 years, and am still shaking off the vines. Now I look back and see that Catholicism uses shame and guilt to keep you in a place of suffering, despite the elegance of its liturgy. I appreciate liberation theology and the charity (caritas - love) aspects of the faith, but I don't have the belief, and I don't accept the shame. I was attracted to the shame and guilt because I felt I was a bad person (I must be, for bad things to happen to me). I share this to give you a shading to you father's ongoing faith. (Happy to discuss offline as well). Could this be part of why he was so devoted? I don't know you or your father, but I saw a lot of people drenched in shame at the altar. I forget sometimes, and slip into guilt. (We lost our son to suicide in 2019, also part of our story.)
What brings me joy today are the moments you speak of -- moments of contentment. I love this spoon. I relish my morning coffee. I anticipate the first snow. I savor the time on the sofa with husband, cats, dog, TV. I eat life because there is no tomorrow, and if there is, I want to eat it, too. Eat it, I mean, become it. Soak in it. Embody it. Find the love (God) transcendent in our lives right now. Reading your words is part of that. Writing my own, same. Keep writing the words, doing the work. We shall overcome.
Joy is sunshine in the Hellgate Canyon and being trained by my newly adopted shelter dog. Your post, Chris, adds to my joy and joy in sharing it with others. Take care.
Your words are always so helpful. I’ve been feeling down lately too (tendonitis, so I can’t knit which means sooo much to me, our new pup either has growing pains or dysplasia, I’ve recently started trying to eat healthier, THE UPCOMING ELECTION, the post office lost a package I sent to my niece).
But yesterday my friend and I went for a six mile hike. It was in the snow. It was freezing. The wind was blowing so hard I was afraid we’d get hit by a falling tree. We couldn’t make the full 10 miles as we’d planned. My snowshoes on my backpack kept smacking the back of my legs. It was so cold when we stopped for lunch I only ate a few pieces of cheese and dried apples. But, I loved it. And as it turned out it was just what I needed.
Thanks for the confirmation and reminder that we all need to find, and focus on, our joy.
Reading this first thing in the morning sipping my coffee in the dark. My dog curled up on his bed, with blankets over him. My house is quiet. Everyone is sleeping but me. This is bliss.
I inherited an interest in history, including family history, and, in my extended family, have ended up being my generation's principal historian/genealogist. It's an interesting hobby, and forces a privileged descendant of settlers to think through a lot of what wrongs were done, and what lives on into the present. (I'm predominantly New England Anglo, but 1/8 French Canadian, and have a few ancestors who were Virginia slave holders.)
About 20 years ago, I decided it might be fun to switch over from working ever further into the past, trying to understand 17th century lives based on very thin records, and instead focus on seeing how many living 4th cousins I could find, and maybe making contact with some. A 4th cousin is out over the horizon for pretty much all of us -- any fourth cousin and I will share common ancestors born from the 1790s to the 1810s. And yet, we are a part of a story. I've met a lot of folks from all walks of life -- every state, province, all of the Anglosphere -- and formed some lasting relationships. We share a story, but also, I've found that folks from other branches will have inherited different part of the narrative, and different physical objects (including photographs). It's a small scale crowdsourcing of a small scale bit of history.
My joy right now is in examining my heart and discovering my Truths, my REAL Truths, my real spiritual Truths. And, the joy in that is deciding to stick to my guns when it comes to committing to my Truths.
Also, in my grief, I am finding some joy in applying for adoption of a shelter pup.
Delightful and heart-written post, Chris.
On a FaceTime call yesterday, I listened and watched my children tease each other, miles and miles apart. They bring me so much joy, centered in my heart. And, I can now walk every day without too much pain. Each step is a joy. I don't take it for granted.