I can not tell you what a relief this is! My house repairs will happen, my financial picture is rosier, and I have room to breathe once again. Maybe I can actually get some real sleep, all the way through the night, from the relief.
I have been surviving lately, just trying not to drown. I suppose that this was inevitable for part of the process - nobody ever says "my divorce was so pain free!" and there is good reason for that. But still, merely surviving is not my style. I have not worked this hard to be alive only to "survive" - I want to thrive. I want to suck the marrow from life, I want to kneel in the grass in awe and wonder, and I want to carry the all the joy that life holds with me at all times.
I have high standards, clearly. And I have had many people tell me that my standards are impossibly high, and then when I'm having a bad day, or week, or month, they tell me that my standards are making me miserable and that I ought to lower them like a normal person.
But I don't want to be normal.
I want an extraordinary life, and I am not settling for mere survival. I am going to keep fighting to find the joys in my life. The other day I stopped to smell a rose - a beautiful yellow one with a deep, old fashioned scent - that had not yet had frost, and the old cliche' came to me, and it reminded me that so few people actually stop to inhale fragrance in that way. For fifteen or twenty seconds, I closed my eyes and breathed in its perfume, and it made me smile deeply, and it made me remember that there is beauty and joy in the world....but that you have to stop to find it. How many times had I walked by that same rose without truly drinking it in? How many people will actually stop for it - so beautiful and unexpected in the fall leaves? I intend to be one of those who stops, and not just once.
The same people who tell me that my standards are too high, that life is full of challenges and that I can't possibly feel the joy I'm seeking, are the same ones who ask me "how do you do it?" and wonder aloud how come I'm so much happier than they are.
Here's the secret, the one they can't get.
I'm happier than they are because I decided to be.
I prioritize joy. I refuse to give up on it. When I'm in the dark, black hole of despair - we all get there sometimes - I don't stop seeking joy, even though I sometimes feel like I'm blindfolded in a snowstorm with no sense of home. I just refuse to stop looking for happiness.....and that means that I find it. I believe in it, so I just keep going. It seems clear to me that though we all know that life has no guarantees, it pretty much guarantees that you won't get where you wish to be if you stop, so I keep going.
I can not remove life's obstacles (in case you've forgotten, cancer, divorce, and money woes are all on that list). But in spite of them, there is joy, and I'm seizing it.
This weekend while my kitchen is being torn apart for my mini-remodel (a functioning dishwasher will cause nirvana-like bliss at this point; this is especially true today because yesterday I threw a trick-or-treating party with a dinner for 15 people and I still have dishpan hands as a result), Katherine and I are taking our dog and heading to the mountains for a night. We're staying in a cheap hotel, but it's got an indoor pool, and it's in a gorgeous area. Maybe we'll hike a bit, maybe we'll watch movies in the room, we'll certainly splash in the pool and hot tub. Life's not perfect, but it doesn't need to be perfect. I am going to get as much joy from my functioning dishwasher and new sink as any of the $100,000 remodels I've seen on HGTV, and I'm going to enjoy my cheap hotel as much as if it were five stars and world class.
Maybe one day, I'll get a "real" remodel or a five star vacation. But I'm not waiting for "one day" to be happy. It seems that the waves have died down a bit, and I can float in them. Bliss.