I took this photograph on a rainy day recently — a day in which I had found it difficult to get motivated to get outside because it was so wet and windy and cold. But the moment I did, everything shifted. I felt a whole day of anxiety ease away as I reveled in the beauty of sparkling wet crimson and orange and gold leaves on the trees above and the ground below.
I left the house in stress and I returned in joy.
Aaaaah! I thought to myself. THIS is why walking is part of my daily practice of joy. It works!
So this morning, as I have promised myself, I chose a photo and let it inspire my blog. I chose this photo of wet leaves on black pavement — and then I wrote what I thought might be my most beautiful paean to joy yet. But just as I was about to click save, it all vanished from the screen. Every single word — POOF! GONE!
All that was left was this photo.
As a writer, I have learned three things about losing work to computer poltergeists:
Breathe breathe breathe — and then let it all go.
Trust that whatever needs to be said will resurface when needed.
Don’t try to recreate what was lost.
So that ode to joy, well, someday it will get written. Or not. Today, however, is not that day.
Instead this photograph of fallen leaves becomes a different metaphor — a metaphor for letting go.
As I was walking on that rainy day when I took this photo, the beauty of the leaves on the trees dripping wet against a leaden sky was equally matched by the patchwork quilt of color underneath my feet. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by beauty. All I had to do to see it was to get up from my screen and out into the world to remember the joy I always feel living on this spectacular planet. But to do that, to get outside and remember, I had to be willing to let go of all the things my head was screaming at me to get done, and let my heart guide me for a change.
The reason I began this daily practice of joy was because I had forgotten how to live in my heart. Joy is, very simply, the language of the heart. When we forget to practice joy, we stop speaking in love and live our lives from our heads.
It would appear that I’m not the only one who seems to forget to live more in my heart than in my head.
Today in the United States our clocks turn back. The days are getting shorter. On Tuesday, here in the US, we vote in the most divisive and important election of many of our lifetimes. The time to make the changes that can save our planet are getting shorter, too.
But all around us, beauty persists. All around us is the presence of joy. All around us is the impetus to speak the language of love and connect with the world in joy. All around us is the hope of the future.
And mostly, all around us is a metaphor for living that we would all do well to follow: Let go even of that which seems the most beautiful. Let that beauty fertilize our futures with joy and hope and healing. Trust that the fallow times and darkest days can germinate new growth. Spring will come — the rains the winds the light. Then we will bloom. We will bloom. The world will bloom again — together — in joy.
But first, let everything go that no longer serves. Let it all go.
And then trust. Trust that to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
A time of peace.
May it be so.