writing the joy

the bottom right corner of a window with a green shutter -- and just to the right of the corner are three graffitied musical notesGood morning good morning good morning — I’ve been half-awake for about an hour, dancing with the snooze on my alarm, curling in around pillows and covers. It’s hard to get up extra early these days; I wonder if my 4am writing mornings are behind me. It’s hard to believe that could be true — more likely, my body is just needing a bit more time to process all the life we’re living when we’re awake, and wanting more room to move around in dreamspace. The dark is still clinging to the city outside my windows, and candlelight makes my apartment feel both cozy and tendriled with illumination.

This morning my heart is pounding, and during the moments I was awake during my snoozy last hour, I was beginning to compose this blog post, writing liminally. My heart is racing a bit today, but with delight and pleasure and anticipation rather than with terror or panic.

This is slow writing. I’m picking out the words one at a time like walking down a row of strawberry bushes in the cool morning sun, looking only for the best and reddest, plucking off the one word that will bring the most juice to the throat. I want to fill you this morning. This morning I am exhilarated. Having spent the last several posts writing about panic, writing into the place of fear, I want to write into this side of it, too: the joy.

Last night and this morning, I’ve been seeing that this life I’ve leaned into — have committed myself to — can be mine, can work, can fly. This morning it’s all possible, more concrete than a dream. We can do this. We can open this way. We can meet our desires with open hearts, people in our corner, brainstorming and plans that require constant recalibration.

What I’m trying to say is that, today, I believe in myself and this life. I believe.  I can visualize a place of calm and ease, I can feel myself loosening around what’s new in my life. Just for now, I am on the other side of panic, I am working out of a place of vision and clarity. The fear is still with me, pounding half my heart, gripping my inside hands. The fear has abated. I know she’ll be back, I know I’ll rise up on the other side again, the roller coaster will whip me up around a surprise corner and into a tunnel and the fear will lock its fingers again around my neck and twist up my belly.

But that’s not right now. Right now I settle into the pleasure of being able to craft a life that is worth my living it, a life that pounds my heart with pleasure when I wake up in the morning, a life that is centered around words, around reading and writing — a life that is of my own making.

It can be hard to write openly about pleasure — we make a lot of space for ourselves and one another to write about sorrow and fear and rage and loss: we want to honor those difficult emotions. And yet where is the space to speak of our joy and excitement? There’s a place inside that wants to hold back this telling, wants not to be seen as bragging, wants not to — what — don’t stop writing– wants not to show off or seem smug or make someone else feel bad or get knocked down off my high horse when the hard feelings come back.

We don’t have a lot of space in our society for big, full, personal expressions of joy. Facebook, other social networking, can be good for sharing the big and also the small, simple, common moments of deep pleasure that we often experience  by ourselves — we don’t always want to be  alone in our joy, we want to open our hands the way we did when we were five or seven and show off what we found: look at this rock! Look at all the sparkles in it, and I think that’s quartz there, isn’t it cool? We want to point out the butterflies, the snoopy-shape in the clouds, the amazing thing we just did with our words. What gifts, these experiences and the possibility of offering them, open-hearted, to those who love us.

And now I want to put myself down, to pollyanna these words. I’m resisting that urge — there’s nothing ironic or cool about this writing. It’s earnest. I mean it when I say I’m profoundly grateful for feeling this way. I spent a decade, more, in my early years waking up with a heart that pounded only because I was terrified about what the day would bring to me, or because I’d just been stuck in my dreamspace, unable to run away or scream, frozen in place while my stepfather came after me again and again. I’ve spent years waking up into despair or dread. I get to celebrate now the days that I wake up into that Calvin’s Hobbes feeling of, “It’s morning! Now we can DO stuff again!

It’s morning. I’m so glad you’re up — now we can do stuff again!

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What’s the stuff you want to get to do when you wake up in the morning? Give yourself some minutes this morning to write that morning, those pleasures, that day — take ten, or fifteen, or even twenty — or five! Set a timer so you don’t have to watch the clock, and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go. What do you celebrate about your life (or what is your character celebrating about their life) these days — or what do you want to be able to celebrate?

This morning I celebrate you and your survival, the ways you treasure this lifetime, how you have risen up to meet and welcome your dreams. I’m grateful for how you celebrate the joys of others, how you risk sharing your own as well. Thank you, today, for your words.

One response to “writing the joy

  1. This:

    It can be hard to write openly about pleasure — we make a lot of space for ourselves and one another to write about sorrow and fear and rage and loss: we want to honor those difficult emotions. And yet where is the space to speak of our joy and excitement?

    I love this claiming and questioning.
    Yes.

    Thank you Jen, as always for showing us all the possibilities…