Someone asked me the other day how to find joy in these hard times of the coronavirus.
And I had to say that experiencing joy in such times is less the result of “finding” it than of being open to it.
As I face this pandemic with every other human on the planet, I ricochet between fear, grief, hope, love of the quiet, nostalgia, gratitude for my loved ones, anger, the urge to escape …. All are real. None is permanent.
If I set out to find joy, I might be disappointed. I might try to snatch at instants I think might be joy, only to discover that they just don’t penetrate very deeply. And then I might get discouraged and think, well, there really is no joy in hard times. It’s just plain hard and miserable.
But if I am open to dark emotions, acknowledging them without taking refuge in them, then I find I am cracked open wide enough to be flooded with radiant emotions as well. I feel sadness, but also wonder, joy, sweetness. The smallest thing can move me deeply.
Today, for example, on a gloomy, back-to-winter day, when the aisles of the supermarket were almost empty and people were keeping their physical distance while greeting each other with smiles of we’re-all-in-this-together, and all the headlines on the newspaper stand screamed a worsening situation…. I did not find but was found by some little pansy plants. And they are giving me joy.