Ever watch children at a playground? Ever watch your own children at play- just watch. Joy shoots out of them, they live in the moment of pleasure, run, chase, catch, running from one activity to the next, often smiling and laughing. Visit a playground and observe children at play if you need a reminder. That joy, can be conditioned out of them, so as educators, parents, or influencers of children/students, tread lightly on the heaviness and problems and seize the joy, silliness, and solutions that life offers. Turn on some music, run around with them, suggest a quick game of tag, break up the tension…
Have you heard this “the glass is half empty?” I have plenty of reasons to believe that crap. With the loss of my parents to terminal cancer, in the span of one year, each, I had the joy, yes joy of being there to “nurse” them as best I could and watch them die. It is much like birth, there is sheer bliss and massive shock, all at once. You may understand if you’ve ever been a witness or participant, to death and birth.
I birthed my child, as my mother was dying; becoming a mother and losing my mother was, is, an experience I am still sorting through. My entire world spun out, like a jet fighter plane in a flat spin. My entire family disintegrated over petty matters after the matriarch and patriarch were no longer physically present.
I was lost.
In my family there is a history of giving up, loss of joy; my grandmother had knee surgery when she was recovered, the doctor told her, “You can begin walking around now.” She chose not to. As a matter a fact, she remained in bed from that surgery until her dying day. She had every reason to stay in that bed, she had a difficult upbringing, her husband was a drunk, beat her, beat the kids, told my father he was worthless and stupid, that he was going to enter his bedroom at night and kill him.
When I felt lost, a big problem, I was forced to seek solutions. What were my next steps? Staying in bed was not an option, nor did I want it to be an option. I craved life and living. I enjoyed watching simple daily exchanges between people, child and mother, couples, friends, siblings, assistance from a human being who offered to help hold some groceries while a mom got her keys out, a woman who offered some extra change to a child in line who was buying a candy bar that was over his amount of change, a coach who passed around the ball with a hesitant young player to get acquainted with the sport, rather than enter full on into the group, simple small miracles everyday, reminded me there is far more great in the world than not great.
Are there problems in the world? Yes. I prefer to focus on solutions because problems force one to seek options. I once attended a conference, a speaker said, “Life goes in one of two directions, better or worse.” I love that thinking, it reminds me that better is always an option. Solutions and options take time. Patience required. In a world today that is at our fingertips, information on the moment, judgments in a flash; it is difficult to hold steady in the patience. In the book Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D. she writes, “Who can afford the luxury of trying to grow when everything is on the right now.”
When I ask, in my tagline, “Where is your fire?” it is about finding your passion, finding your center, finding that feeling that propels you rather than repels you. It is not about the speed of light, it is about knowing what brings you joy. What old scripts you must know don’t belong to you, they are in the past and have little to do with your present. What is your desire for joy? Find the fire for that joy, and go after it, full steam ahead.