Week 17: Finding Joy

July 21, 2020

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

You know, we all keep waiting for this to get better. But it could get much, much worse.

I realize this isn’t very upbeat of me. And I’m not writing it to send anyone into a pit of despair. The question I’m asking myself — that I guess I’m asking all of us — is this: if it gets worse, how we will stay well? I don’t mean physically well, though of course, that too. What I mean is mentally well? How will we keep smiling if the world outside our doors continues to crumble?

There are so many bad things that could happen:

  • The virus could continue to spread, forcing us into lockdowns more severe than the one we had in March. Once a week grocery shopping, anyone?
  • The flu will come this fall, and it will be bad. It could even be a second pandemic. There’s no law saying you can’t have two pandemics at once.
  • There will be a vaccine, but trust in the government will be so low that not enough people will get it. The virus will continue to roam our cities, and since no vaccine is 100 percent, even those who get vaccinated may need to protect themselves from over-exposure to the virus.
  • The Trump administration will continue to expand its new practice of sending troops into cities that haven’t requested them, to further political ends.
  • Donald Trump will lose the popular vote, lose the Electoral College, and try to maintain his grip on power anyway.
  • Somebody close to me, or to you, will fall ill.

And on, and on. What I mean by all this is, there is simply no guarantee that life outside our homes will improve in the next six months, and lots of reasons to think it could devolve further. So I think it’s really important during this time to remember what makes us happy in our own lives. Write a list, if you must. Pin it to the wall where you can see it when you wake up. Remember that the world is too busy these days to offer us joy or entertainment, so we must grab it for ourselves, and hold it close and tight.

As for me, what makes me happy is …

My family. My husband, my kids, my parents and their partners, my in-laws, my cousins, my husband’s cousins. Because they give my life meaning.

My dog. Because she thinks everything I do is perfectly done, and because she’s soft, fluffy and cute.

My friends. Because they make me feel like I walk through life with a net beneath me, so I don’t have to worry about tripping now and then.

My writing. Because in it, I can lose myself for a little while. I’m too much with myself these days. It’s a great relief.

My house. Because it’s so comfortable.

My neighborhood. Because it’s so pleasant.

The climate here in West L.A. Because it’s mostly so temperate.

The ocean. Because though I rarely visit, I know it’s there, only four miles away, and its wide expanse makes me feel a bit more free.

Novels and movies and TV shows. Because they keep me entertained

Twitter, especially Susan Orleans’ epic drunken twitter thread on Saturday night. Because, serendipity.

What about you? Where do you find joy?

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