joy and sorrow

Well, the livestream of Zumba I offered from ECC certainly seemed to be a hit for people.

Some other time I’ll cover how totally mortified I am to think of all those people seeing me dance like a moron all by myself, or we can unpack why I felt the need to double wave. Lord have mercy.

But late last night, as I watched our engagements and number of views climb I started wondering why there was so much of a response to this post. I figure it must be one of two reasons:

  1. You all are very kind, and you sympathy-liked or commented on this post to try to lessen the sheer mortification you were feeling on my behalf. Or,
  2. People are really craving some joy right now.

I think it’s mostly the second option (thanks to those of you for whom it was the first – I see you, and I appreciate you.) I felt the joy while I was doing it. I had to face the screen towards me so I could make sure I wasn’t dancing out of view, so I saw the comments and likes coming in as I danced. I felt like we were together. The sun was out, the music was blaring, and even though it made my whole body hurt the jumping and dancing and smiling really worked. I wasn’t faking that up there – I was joyful.

I went to bed feeling a slight vulnerability hangover but mostly really glad that so many of us had shared something fun together. Some of you sent me videos of you dancing in your living rooms (it’s not too late to still do that!), many of you sent words of thanks. I felt connected. I felt grateful. I felt good.

This morning I woke up and laid in bed while I listened to the rain outside wondering what today would bring. I find planning pointless these days, because nothing happens as I think it might. I came downstairs and poured myself my coffee and picked up Facebook (because I don’t heed my own advice) and almost immediately saw this comment in my Facebook feed:

And in a moment, I was crying in my kitchen.

I’ve been doing a lot of self talk lately. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m still being paid. I have people in my house so I’m not totally alone. At least for now I can still stand in the barn at ECC and read the words of Compline. The internet exists. I have toilet paper. I should just be grateful. This could be so much worse.

And all that is true. But what the wise mama on my Facebook feed said is also true. There is grief in this for every single one of us. We have all experienced so much change so quickly. We have experienced loss and at the time of this writing we have no idea how much more loss we will sustain before this is over. Grief is wholly appropriate. It felt good to cry.

Which got me thinking. Yesterday I saw our collective deep craving for joy, and today tapped into a well of grief I didn’t know I had. And I bet I’m not the only one carrying that around. So if the need to experience these two emotions is so strong – what’s happening in us as we move through these days?

My best guess is that we are walking around trapped in between. It’s incredibly hard to access joy when we are so anxious, and it feels almost taboo to do so when we know so many people are struggling. And I think we are terrified to tap into the grief for fear of being overwhelmed.

So what happens instead is we are hovering in this middle place – this purgatory. We don’t allow joy or grief and so instead all that’s left is….anxiety.

But friends, we need to be brave here. Brave enough to feel. We needed to dance together yesterday, and we might need to cry with one another today, and we need to allow for that full range of emotion. Each of these moments – the good and the bad – they pass. I think we will do well for ourselves if we let ourselves sink in to both. Allow yourself a good belly laugh and the high of endorphins, and allow yourself to sink into a pile of tears. I don’t think these feelings will overwhelm you – I think they will set you free.

I want to leave you with some of my favorite words on this idea, from the writer Kahlil Gibran.

Please go easy on yourselves, friends. This is hard, and we can do hard things. Even when the hardest part is just living into all the feelings that come up along the ride.

One thought on “joy and sorrow

  1. I love this so much. Love is the energy of a steadfast will bent on creating fellowship. Thank you for generating that energy, fellowship, and love.

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