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Joy, The Little Things, and Imaginary Characters

“I see people who despite what may have happened to them yesterday are filled with hope. Not just that today might work out for them, but that tomorrow might be great. I see a world where people are hungry for what lies around the next bend. It’s not that the glass is half empty or half full, it’s that there’s still a glass and there’s always a chance for more water.”

If you would have asked me ten years ago to describe my views on the world I would have said that I was an optimist. I believed that no matter what happened when I walked out my door there was a purpose to my life, and that purpose, no matter how big or how small, mattered. People often told me that I was too bubbly or that I had too much energy, because nothing seemed to get me down. And that was true, I found joy in everything. If it started raining during my picnic, I would take pictures of the dew drops hitting the grass and title the album “Watching the Grass Grow.” If it my shoelace broke when I was tying my shoe, I would find a way to turn the string into a hair bow. I was that convinced that everything could be wonderful.

Unfortunately, as the story often goes, time began to beat me down. I began to see the world differently. I began to see people differently. I began to see myself differently. I never really became overwhelmingly negative. And I never let myself believe my pessimism was anything more than realism. But my complete shift in balance had to be attributed to something.

And one day I found out what it was. I let my cup spill over. I lost all of my joy.

At first it was in the big things. I let go of my passions. I didn’t write. I rarely read. I didn’t pursue creative passions. Usually citing time restraints as a reason I hadn’t gotten around to doing them recently. But it didn’t take long before I even started to lose sight of the little things. I was frustrated when things didn’t go the way I planned or when something menial broke. I didn’t take the time to notice the way the sunlight made my shadow dance across the sidewalk or the way the stars fought each night to see who could get closest to the moon. All those little things I loved got lost in the shadows of the darkness I was carrying with me.

I’m not saying that being realistic is a bad thing. There is certainly a place for reality. Most of us live in it. But even in the most mundane of realities there is joy to be found. And happiness can light up your world brighter than any other light.

I find mine daily in my writing, in helping others accomplish things they didn’t know they were capable of, of inspiring confidence in people that don’t see what I do when they look at themselves. But I find it in the little things too. In the hug from a loved one I haven’t seen in years. Or a tweet from a stranger who liked my idea and wanted to add to it. Or skipping rocks across a river in a park (or in my case watching rocks sink in a river).

There’s joy in everything. It’s flowing down around you, all you have to do is hold your cup out and watch it fill up. Doesn’t matter if your glass is half full or half empty, either way there’s room for more water.

~S

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