Is that All There Is: Lessons in Joy and Dancing

The year 2012 was a sparse year for posts on this blog about joy. The strange thing is that it wasn’t because there wasn’t any joy. In fact, there was more joy, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in 2012 than any other year of my adult life. Qualitatively, there was probably just as much pain. More unexpected and unwanted pain than I had experienced in my entire life.

It baffled my soul and my brain how the two could co-exist, sometimes even simultaneously. Yet they did. It was also difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that what seemed like my entire life falling apart didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. Sure it hurt like hell, there were moments and sometimes days I felt like I wanted die. Times when I felt like some force was attempting to crumple me like a sheet of loose-leaf paper from the very core of my physical body.

Yet no matter how still I lay cuddled up with that feeling of despair, I could still hear my breath. Death was not coming; and listening to the rhythm of my breath I would realize, repeatedly, that I didn’t really want it to. So I’d get up, and go with the flow.

A tornado lit through my life.

The life I’d worked so hard for. The life I’d done all the right things for. The life I wanted so badly and paid nearly the ultimate price for. The life that, once I was in it, made me wonder, “Is that all there is?”

So I stood there looking at the storm tearing up my life: taking my unborn child too early; destroying my abusive and unhealthy marriage; severing my ties with people that represented everything I had lived for…and when it was all said and done I packed up a little car, with nearly nothing in but a tank full of gas, and went with the flow.

The flow took me to visit friends, interview for jobs and set up a new camp – with next to nothing, save the lessons that I’d learned. The most important one (because there were many) was about holding on and letting go.

My miscarriage and the end of my marriage (only months apart) taught me that if holding on to the thing (person, idea, etc.) that I loved the most was impossible, why decrease the joy in my life even more by holding on to ANYTHING that I didn’t want.

So the lesson was one that was as old as time: Let go. Vairāgya. Practice detachment.

The joy in my life presently is unspeakable. I’ve tried since September to write a post and just couldn’t sit still long enough; or when I sat still couldn’t find the words to describe and explain. I hadn’t wrapped my head around it. As I’ve spent more time in prayer and asana I have come to realize why that was.

A friend captured this picture of me while I was lost in the music.

A friend captured this picture of me this summer while I was lost in the music.

It cannot be wrapped up, it can only be observed. I cannot possess it; I can only experience it.

So that’s my latest lesson. Your experiences with joy become a bit more frequent when you let it roam free and don’t try to possess it.

What is it that you’re holding on to? Why is it that you’re holding on to it?

(Post Vibes: “Tornado” by Little Big Town; “Free” by The Zac Brown Band; “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu)