Sunday, February 05, 2012

Light and Sight: The Joy Dare on Dark Days

It was a big day for some people. Eli won the Bowl with a lot of help from his friends. I'm happy for the Giants (and for my colleague who was cheering for them) but keep wanting to tell them, it won't last. That victorious, lighthearted feeling passes and next year, this win is just a memory and a stat in the record books. I guess I can say that because it doesn't affect my life. There's nothing else like the euphoria of being a champion. They'll make some money, they'll get endorsements, they'll have their memories, they'll get to keep their starting position or their coaching job. But in 40 years, maybe they'll be the former star carrying the trophy up to the podium to give to the next generation of star athletes.

Each of us have our day in the sun. Our pinnacle. Our 15 minutes of fame. "Not me," you may say. Perhaps not yet. Perhaps being popular in high school is a close as you'll ever come. Perhaps your best moment will be watching your child succeed. Perhaps celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary will be when you receive the most applause of your life. Perhaps you'll live quietly and never reach the goals you hope for. Perhaps this sounds depressing, like Jack Nicholson's character asking the movie title question, "Is this As Good as it Gets?"


We know there's something more. Eternity is written in our hearts. So I keep looking. Trying to train the brain not to focus on what is missing (normal habit) but to train the eye to see what is present.

The gifts I want to name right now include:

90. Silence. So quiet I hear the ringing in my ears. After the game droned on for so many hours, sitting here writing in a completely quiet room is as sweet as the smooth centre of melt-in-your-mouth Lindor Lindt chocolate.

91. Freedom of choice. I didn't have to watch the game. I wanted to. I chose not to seek out friends with whom I could watch, but I think I might have preferred the company. I also had the choice to fall asleep in the middle of it, ignore it while I Facebooked, get a snack and walk the dog. But I watched the good parts and the ending.

92. The Dance Last Night. We attended a fundraiser for literacy sponsored by a Rotary Club and it ended with a dance. Watching the skill and body movement of some of the couples was absolutely fascinating. Truly beautiful, poetic and romantic.

93. The sunset. Again. It's different every day. It included all sorts of shadows, but they made it even more beautiful.

94. My husband's camera. I borrowed it to take photos of the sunset. It makes a great stand in while my DSLR and I are separated because I forgot it in another city. We will be reunited soon, but in the meantime, the zoom is as long and the stabilizer is as dependable and the end result is as good on this one as the expensive one.

For each of these joy gifts, I started first to think about what was wrong with this picture.

90. My ears are ringing. Is this a health issue I should worry about?
91. I was alone all afternoon. Do I not have friends?
92. I can't dance. Uncoordinated? Uncooperative spouse? Unwilling to learn?
93. It was mostly cloudy today.
94. My husband got a camera two years ago he's never used.

If that's as good as my thinking gets, then I am a sad, sad person. Do you see how logic and grace can turn the negative thought into honing in on what's good about a situation? I don't come by this naturally. My husband will testify that I go first to the negative. But I am learning to be more positive. As Michael Hyatt has written about even an unfortunate situation, I am learning to ask his question: "What does this make possible?" So I turn five negatives into an opportunity to see five gifts. I usually end up with more.

I'm not often using the prompts given to us by Ann Voskamp for the Joy Dare, but it is my motivation and inspiration. She helped me learn by her example how to see the everyday gifts.

What do you do to set your sight on the light? To see what's good instead of what's missing? To excavate the diamonds rather than counting lumps of coal? What do you do to first see and then name the gifts?

We all have them. Have you received yours? I dare you to find your joy.

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