A few weeks ago I started a new work adventure and so everything around me was suddenly rainbows and blue skies after a time when things have been... less so.
I'm supremely grateful for this change and I know my friends are very happy (well, happy and relieved).
There were some days that were impossibly dark and it was in those days that I would find it hard to imagine when, how, or even IF things would change for the better. Some days, not too many, but a few, where I really couldn't see a future where I would find joy again.
Through it all, there were people in my life who were really 'there' for me. Some of those that showed up were truly surprising not because I was surprised that they were caring people (I wouldn't have been friends with them in the first place if they weren't) but I was surprised because, aside from my couple closest friends, they came from a variety of corners of my past experience on this spinning ball of mud we affectionately call Earth: the Lutheran camp friend, the college roommate, the friend I made at the Gay Games in 1990, the childhood friends I hadn't seen in 40 years, a friend I hadn't been in touch with for a decade, a Canadian friend I made while judging a contest five years ago, the Chorus friend and so on.. ... they all sent messages of love, encouragement, and acceptance helping me pave a road to the future from the past.
During this time, the Mister helped me re-discover my art and thus I have produced work again - sporadically, but given that it had been nearly 30 years since I last had been at a drawing table, not too shabby. :) We also have an Instagram (@jacobandrewaltenburg) where "we're cookin grub in our tiny place" - a great source of joy for us. As ex theater people, he and I could see doing an online cooking show specifically geared for people in New York apartments with little counter space (and living on a budget! some of these cooking show assume that you can spend 90% of your income on food.. that is not how 99% of the human population lives).
But the matter of how to find joy in our world even during dark times is one I've come back to again and again.
A few weeks ago I was at a party and a young woman expressed to me how hard it was for her to be happy even on Christmas when, as a Christian, she should be the most joyful. "It's everything in the world", she said, "how do I get to be happy when so many are miserable?"
From out of nowhere, I heard myself respond - "we have to find joy in our day to day life; and we can't turn down chances to be joyful.... because, as you are saying, there's so little of it left in the world. When we find it, we have to appreciate and experience it and maybe, giving it attention, we'll help our collective joy grow."
Her face sort of changed but was it due to doubt or it was a new idea she hadn't considered? I have to admit that I suddenly questioned myself - it was a typically Pollyannish thing that I would say, but.... did I really believe it? I mean, can I honestly find joy in the world, especially when things have been rough both personally and.. .well <gesturing broadly>?
And the answer is: Yes. Surprisingly, yes.
The evidence is before me - the past three years have been challenging, but I have found joy. Joy in those friends that reached out - joy in the creations (the comic strip, the cooking) - and joy in the simple beauty of every day.
It IS easy to find things to be upset/sad/bummed out about... but it seems as though when I started looking for things to be happy about, I found them... and I found that it practically became imperative for survival that I find things to be joyful about.
So, I will try, on as regular basis as I can, to continue to jump for joy here on this blog. It's not somewhere you'll find me going on and on about things in the world that are awful although I certainly reserve the right to do so should I need to, but my focus will be the comic strips, my Johns and Marys bio entries, uplifting quotes, funny things I find on the internet, and little stories and thoughts. I will never win any bloggy awards, but I'm not here to do that. But I'm here to create a fun space for me that helps keep me on track that you might enjoy and might help you as well. Hope you join me. :)