Saturday, December 19, 2009

Great Joy in Little Stuff Too...

Ahh. Snow. It always brings back memories of our Olympic caliber sleigh riding down a tree packed hill, whose path terminated in the middle of Skyler Ave, in the middle of Kearny New Jersey. Phew, no traffic, we'd say as we pressed on, noses running to our chins. We were granted a snow day from school, and we weren't going to waste a single second of it! We'd readjust our ice-caked mittens, now frozen on the inside, and my brother would trek our wooden sleigh back through the trees, up the hill - egging me on to pick up the pace - as I slipped and wobbled behind. I'd yell for him to wait, which of course he did not. But he did look back at me, every so often, and I could see the cloud of fog, circulating in front of his lips, as it was in front of mine; our bodies exhausted from our "march of the frozen feet" up the locally deemed suicide hill -but there was no doubt. We were hopeful, fearful, and breathless... with joy.

Until this morning, I hadn't realized that for the last two decades I'd found only a nostalgic-type pleasure in snow - observing it from the dry side of a window, with a half-smirk and a steamy cup o'java. But, I suppose my quest for joy has exercised my curiosity just enough that I am now well-trained and duly intent on finding happiness, utilizing all senses, as often as possible. With little encouragement from my intellect - I found myself pulling on my boots, wrapping my head in a scarf and forging into the "outside", without salt, without a shovel and, most remarkably, without a plan.

I've got one or two more snow angels in me, I thought. As I lay on my front lawn, flailing my arms and legs, hoping that this wild impulse would not aggravate my sciatica, and making a mental note to schedule a long awaited MRI for my right shoulder, I started to laugh. Not because the childlike adventure had suddenly returned, but because I started to think of the  jumped-to assumptions, likely forming down the block. Think about it - a middle aged woman, rolling around the front lawn, in an inch and half of slush. Ha! If I were ten years old, a neighbor might be looking through the window, wrapped in their own nostalgic snow-covered memories. But, since I'm (ahem) years old, I assume that they are rather saying prayers and scrambling around the basement for their defibrillator.

I laughed more. It may not have been the same exhilaration found during a snow day on suicide hill, but I was feeling it all the way down to my frozen toes....there was no mistake - there was a cloud of fog in front of my lips, and with it, there was joy.

It got me thinking that perhaps finding joy is as habitual as brushing your teeth. Maybe once you feel joy enough, you seek it with little conscious effort. After all it was waiting right there outside my window, along with all the other fallen flakes for twenty-plus years. Thus far in my research I've discovered that most people find deep joy in the big stuff of life, the milestones, the tragedies turned triumphant, the extraordinary unstoppable events that blind side our plans like a wayward comet. But, today I found joy in one of the quiet moments in between. Today I found that sometimes joy can be waiting, patiently, right in your front yard. Today I found that great joy is in the little stuff of life too.