Where's Your Joy?

By Tracy Keenan

June 4, 2015

You’re probably too busy to read this. 
I know I’m too busy to write it
I know, I know - didn't I just come off a silent retreat a couple months ago? 
Didn't I just come back from vacation?
But it can happen so quickly, this sliding back into the mad tear.
Perhaps our shelf life is that short, and we need frequent reminders now more than ever.

We’re all so busy, hurrying from one thing to another, spending our days like spare change, waking up in the middle of the night thinking of all the things that we have to do.

Is that your life?  
Where’s your joy?

There was an article in the New York Times a few years ago about an Island in Greece where people live unusually long lives. In addition to eating simply and naturally with lots of goat’s milk and olives and homegrown vegetables, they live unhurried lives.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-peopleforget-to-die.html?_r=0

Can you imagine what that must be like? 
What’s an unhurried life? 
Adults hurry from task to task, teenagers hurry from activity to event, and children are bustled from play date to soccer to swimming. Is that life? 
Where’s our joy?

I just got back from a vacation, which followed on the heels of much family togetherness on the event of my father’s death. Celebrating his life and mourning his death, I went on a beach vacation where I had nothing to do but walk the beach for hours, eat, sleep, and forage for delights at the local shops.

It was restorative time. And yet, I was scarcely back at work when I found myself working 14 hour days again. And that was just my work-work. Home-related work has yet to be touched upon. But very quickly I caught myself and realized how easily that happens and how much we need the reminder to make time for unhurrying. That's where the joy is.

I know I am not alone in this. We are all busy. Parents have jobs AND child-rearing/house-managing to do. Even many retired people have heavily-scheduled days.
Even if I love my work, and I do, I don’t want to have to wait for a vacation to slow down enough for the holiness of the ordinary to fill my scope of vision. We all need the kind of leisure that allows the whisper of the deep peace to speak to us. We all need space to grow. We need time to digest all of what life is feeding us.

Even one beautiful, well-protected Sabbath day each week is not time enough. (You can’t only eat one day a week. You can’t wait until nightfall to do your breathing. Why would you wait months for a chance to enjoy leisure?)

So let me make my plea (again) for margins in our days, for breathing space. 
Let me make a case for dawdling, for daydreaming, for people-watching and doodling. 

girl
Let me make an argument for turning off the cell phones for a few hours, setting down the devices, getting out of the cars.

Let me call for coffee with a friend, dinner without a television, a walk without a purpose.

There may be much joy and satisfaction in accomplishing things, but the moments we remember are the ones when we stopped long enough to let the joy in.
If I learned anything from my silent unplugged retreat a couple months ago, it’s that the world will go on and the bottom will not fall out if we stop racing and start pacing ourselves, interlacing our days with space for joy to make itself known.
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