The Little Joys

Around here, when the seasons change, our bipolar tendencies rear their ugly head. In spring, it’s mania central. Projects get started, big ideas happen, we get a little agitated. In autumn, we are more subdued as our depressive nature kicks in and we struggle with the harsh realities of the world. I have seen this cycle in myself for the past 12 years. I’ve only begun noticing it over the past few years in my kids.

Rylee is particularly hit hard by the depression in the fall. We sat in my car talking the other day and she just crumpled. The tears flowed and she talked about how she didn’t know how to break the cycle. She has been maintaining a regular schedule of showering before bed, going to bed before 10, and waking up around 8. Now that Will is over COVID, he is cooking again, so she’s eating healthier. She has a bike that could get more use, but don’t we all have one of those? So she’s checking those boxes. I tried breaking it down into moment by moment, just making it through, but that didn’t resonate. Finally, I suggested “little joys.”

“Little joys” is not a novel concept, but it is an effective one. It’s simply having gratitude for the brief moments in our lives when all is good. It can be as simple as hearing your favorite song on the radio, seeing a beautiful leaf dancing in the wind, a whiff of your favorite lotion when you take your mask down to take a sip of water…the list is as infinite as the mind’s ability to dream. At first she scoffed, but as I pressed her for ideas, I could see “it” start to flicker. Her inner spark, her drive, her willingness to dig deep and make it one more day. 

The truth is, we are all struggling. With the news cycle, the pandemic, the soul crushing, more, more, more basis for American capitalism…add teenage existentialism in the mix and it’s enough to break you. I wanted to tell Rylee what I was really thinking–and that was that life is hard. It sucks big hairy moose balls a lot of the time. But if you reframe your mind to accept that the universe has balance and with every crappy thing that happens to you, a beautiful  thing will come along to counterbalance it, you can start to look for the little joys. And you hang on to them…because in this life, it’s all that fucking matters.

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