Kahlil Gibran once wrote, “We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.” There is not a day that goes by that I do not have the opportunity to dwell on 30 seconds of disappointment, or 2 minutes of worry, or a half hour of wishing I was somewhere else. There is ample challenge, heartache and disappointment to be found in all sorts of places if I want to find those things. The world can be a place of fear and grief, of anguish and loss, or of longing and dashed hopes. When we dwell on what’s not right in the world, when we shut out the beauty that persists despite the hardships that pepper our experience, and when we don’t open the gift that ordinary offers, the world aches.
I can remember glancing out the front window during a lull halfway through my work day this past September and seeing my husband swing our one and a half year old daughter up onto his shoulders as they made their way to the garage. The sun was filtering through the newly yellowed leaves on the maple tree, and a gentle breeze was ruffling them, hinting at the coming of autumn. Nick walked slowly up the stone path. Eva rode tall on his shoulders, happily smelling the tiny green blanket that goes with her everywhere and occasionally hooting like an owl. They rounded the corner and were out of my sight lines in about 30 seconds.
It was only 30 seconds, but it was 30 seconds of pure joy.
One tiny slice of joy, added to the other tiny slices that infuse themselves into my consciousness over the course of a day eventually bind together into contentment. Sometimes it takes a while, but at the end of the day, contentment somehow settles into my veins. Those little slices of joy force me to acknowledge that when I look for gifts in the ordinary, when I notice what’s right in the world, and when I see the beauty that punctuates every moment, the world gets better. When I choose joy, the world weeps in gratitude, and the ache subsides.
The world wants to get better, and it does when we remember to see beauty where yesterday we saw nothing in the ordinary events that took place. Little bits of the world start to heal when we remember that we are the universe, and the universe is us. The world’s ache transmutes into peace when we remember that there is no light without darkness and when we accept the oneness that wants to flow through us.
The world is better when we acknowledge 30 seconds of pure joy on a Monday in September and when we replace worry and longing with the gifts of the ordinary.
“The world is filled, and filled with wonder. To see this is to be made free. There is transformation in the beauty of the ordinary. The grace, the light of a brief encounter, of the greening weeping willow, of coffee brewing. There could have been nothing, but there is something, and that something is very good. We forget that, in the drudgery of life. We forget to look around with the amazement of a child. We forget to be kind to each other and make apple pie and plant trees. I want to remember.” -Ellie Roscher [adapted]