Shadows of Joy

Version 2

Inner joy is reflected everywhere, even in your shadow. Sometimes I look at peoples shadows and think “Damn.  That’s a happy shadow. The maker of that shadow must be off the charts ecstatic. I wish I was that happy.”

The thing is, sometimes I am that happy. But I want more. I want merriment to walk in my shadow every day. And I can do it. And so can you… because in the long and winding road of life, I’ve come to understand the path to joy, is easiest to follow by taking each moment as it comes. The shadow people had no plans that day except to go to a parade. They didn’t know it was going to be sweltering, or that the fire engine would shower water for people to enjoy. They had no plans to dance in the street. Living in the moment led them into that spirited moment. The only plan they had that morning was to go to a parade.

Taking each second in your day as they come, does not mean, to have no plans. You still have certain hygienic obligations to fulfill in order to maintain the benefit of companionship. And then, there is the small but large business of having a job, doing household chores, paying bills, and much more in order to survive.

It was ten years ago I realized I was a control freak. It took one conversation with a friend, to recognize how absurd I was, when it came to controlling the details of my life. We are discussing some vague health issues I was experiencing. I am pondering the numerous symptoms, and searching for the possible diagnosis on the Internet. As I fretted over my situation my friend finally asked, “Why don’t you just go to the doctor?”

I pulled back and stared at her with a shocked look in my eyes, “I can’t possibly go to the doctor until I know what’s wrong with me.” This answer seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Wasn’t I in charge of every possible outcome in my life?

She stared at me with equally wide eyes, and began to laugh at the preposterousness of my answer. After a moment I saw it too, and joined in with a hee-haw chuckle.

She called bullshit on me. It was my dazzling moment of enlightenment, when I realized I needed to learn how to let go. At that moment, I understood my thoughts had a strangle hold on my life. By preplanning for every action, I killed the possibility of joy. Happiness cannot live without freedom of expression. I still fight the impulse to create outcomes for my plans because of my need for perfection. I am a self-confessed recovering control freak. I am by nature tenacious. Which can be a good thing, if you fall over a cliff, and are holding on by the tips of your fingers. Don’t let go. But if you’re teaching a 4-H calf to lead, and it suddenly darts away at breakneck speed. And you are being dragged behind leaving the peelings of skin on the gravel. Let go— For God’s sake let go! Being tenacious in that situation is not a wise choice. That was my youngest sister, by the way. In our family, we always felt like we had something to prove. We mimicked the processes our parents used to live their lives. We were unwittingly brainwashed into feeling everything we did needed to be beyond reproach, or we were proved lacking. We were taught if we were not perfect, we fell short as human beings.

I lived the majority of my life thinking that way. Shoring up against failure, so I could appear perfect. Now I know, both perfection and control are an illusion. Not that it made it any easier to change. Quite frankly it’s hell. I still struggle. Sometimes it takes a crowbar and ten strong men, to pry me away from planning all the negative outcomes of a situation. Especially when I am feeling frightened, or vulnerable. Generally, that’s when life looks at my scared scenario’s, and hands me one I’ve never thought of, saying, “Hey! Do you really wanna be perfect? You forgot this one.” It’s proof that living your life in the future, and trying to head off all the possible calamities, will only give you a sore neck from looking for all those conceivable catastrophes. The only influence we have over our lives, is that— if we look for problems we find problems, and if we look for solutions we find solutions.

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. — Kahlil Gibran

So hey, lets think in general terms with positive endings, rather than planning for the possibility of World War 3, or a zombie apocalypse. Go to a parade and see what happens. I guarantee, we too, can be joyful shadows and obscenely happy human beings.

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