Go ahead, take it

As kids we used to think it was so funny to hear my grandma answer the phone.  She would be chatting away in a normal voice, which for her (and her 8 sisters) was rapid fire and kind of loud.  The phone would ring, she would cross the kitchen, pick up the receiver and say  "hellO-o?", her voice suddenly sweet and soft and singsong, managing to draw it out into three syllables.  The stark contrast cracked us up every time...somehow the trek across the kitchen transformed her from the Grandma we knew to a caricature of over-the-top sunniness. Even better if the phone rang when she was upset or scolding us. ("You kids stop running through here!  We have enough people in the kitchen already.  Everyone out! " {phone ring, delicate clearing of throat}  "HellO-o?")

I've worried lately that sometimes this blog feels like that cheery, sing-song hello--definitely one side of my life/personality/experience but not always exactly the full picture.   When I decided to call this spot on the internet "basic joy" it wasn't because I think my life is any more joyful than anyone else's.  It was to remind myself to find the basic everyday joy, a nudge challenging my sometimes Eeyore moods. Life is complicated and mine is messy and imperfect.  Challenges, life's pace, loneliness, expectations, hormones, did I say expectations?, and too little sleep conspire to hide the joy.  

I know from talking to friends, the young women I work with, and a few of you that I'm not alone in this.  I've got a classic case of the Novembers, I think.  I cry at victory speeches, concession speeches,  birthdays, commercials, stories on the radio, watching my kids rise to the occasion and despairing at their struggles--good cries and sad cries, happiness and loneliness.  All of this coexisting with the necessity of my cheery hellO-o voice when it's required.

Then I remember what I always learn in these dreary spans: I can choose joy even in the middle of all that. So I lean heavily on these thoughts:
I salute you. I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got. But there is much, very much, that while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instance. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take joy! Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty . . . that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it, that is all . . . And so I greet you, with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away. ~Fra Giovanni, "Letter to a friend"
Love that.  Take heaven, take peace, take joy. Go ahead, after you...

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Inspired by:
~this post at Segullah about blogging
~a similar discussion about finding joy on my friend Jenny's private blog (so no link)
~this blog about mothers and creativity and blogging
~conversations with friends, family