Nette, one of my treasured long-time readers, left the following comment on my post yesterday:
How did you get from “‘whatever’, let’s just get this mess cleaned up because I’m tired and I still need to make dinner and I don’t have anything thawed out”, to “let me bask in this moment of my child finding art in an accident (which is the best kind) and grab my camera and take a shot or two or three so I can write about my thoughts about this”.
The truth is Nette, I plan for joy. I expect it in my day, I seek it and I try to capture it. And in order to do that I have to facilitate it a little bit. To be clear, I do not try to manufacture joy but I do try to open my eyes to seeing it for the gift that it is and to be ready to sneak up on it when it occurs. I often fail as we all do. Sometimes it seems more important to get the meatloaf in the oven than to stop and look at ribbon on the floor or the cardinal in the snow.
One of ways I facilitate joy in my life is that I always have one of my cameras at hand. I pick it up off my desk in the kitchen and capture moments off and on throughout the day. The body of the camera is a mess because sometimes I barely get the hamburger I’m mixing into dinner off my hands before I snap a picture. Hamburger will wipe off. The moment won’t come again. I have files of pictures of things like ribbon on the floor that would make no sense to anyone else, but hidden in those images is the joy of an ordinary moment in my life, the life I had at the very minute the shutter blinked.
I always have paper and pen at hand. I write down little incomplete thoughts in just enough words that I might be able to ruminate upon the moment later and complete the painting with words that make sense outside of my own head.
I keep a little voice recorder in my car. When it’s just Sean and me in the car and I sense it’s a “talking time” I surreptitiously turn it on and let it go. Just the other day I came across one of the car conversations from when he was three and it melted my heart to hear that sweet baby voice again, it reconstituted the joy of that forgotten moment.
And here’s the thing about joy – sometimes the joy is not apparent exactly in the moment, but comes later — after you’ve had time to take a deep breath, reflect upon it and bring perspective to it. But it is joy all the same and those photos and little word pictures help to keep it from vanishing like a mist.
Here’s a post I wrote a year or so ago about capturing joy.
Thanks for the great comment Nette!