I often state I choose to learn through Joy. What I do not mean is learning cannot occur through misery. It does. Frequently. I choose not to learn my stuff that way. I could. I have in the past. I didn’t like it. At all. And you may want to stop reading here if you hold dear the belief that “everything happens for a (good, Divine, learning) reason” or if you are offended by use of the word shit.
I also am not a believer that there is a good thing inside of every bad happening. Emphatically I am not a believer in such a thing. I believe, seeing as how we are all together making this co-created reality, that sometimes things just happen to us. (Based on others’ ideas of what this reality should look like.) And sometimes those things are shitty. Awful, horrible, mind-blowingly horrifying “why is this evil walking among us” shitty. For the record, I don’t hold to good and evil as static definable concepts that do not change throughout time, but static concepts seem to be a popular thing to voice when horrible things happen.
Being a believer in “sometimes shit happens and that’s just the way it is” is both terrifying and freeing. I like the freedom of it because it allows me to move forward in whatever way I want to in the face of shit happening. (Freedom is Joy.) I do not have to find the gem underneath. I do not have to buck up and strong arm my way through it. I do not have to find the Grand Lesson inside of it. Sometimes I get to just sit in the shit, be completely unhappy about the stench of it, shake my fists at the sky at the absurd unfairness of it, and when I am ready I can stand up, shower, and move forward, shit free. No lessons learned and no obligation to find a kernel of “I never could have learned this if I hadn’t sat in shit” thing. (No obligatory sugar-coating is Joy.)
Sometimes without looking I do find a gem or a lesson learned, but it is by accident not by desire or design. Other times I merely find layers of shit on top of shit and the only course is to clean it off and continue as if I wasn’t just sitting in it.
I do not think one way is better than the other. I don’t glorify my ability to manage shit appropriately when I do that. I don’t shame my inability to not find the gleaming good in it when that is my choice. I don’t glorify or shame others for their choices. I stand in the knowledge that sometimes we wallow and sometimes we don’t. I can stand to the side, look at another person in the midst of their shit and believe I would choose differently. (And always always always the little voice in the back of my head reminds me that that may not be true. I may in fact behave exactly the same as them.) So I try to stay away from qualifying terms such as good choice and bad choice and simply admit that in each particular moment whatever action is taken is the correct one for that moment. I do this whether it is me in the shit or someone else.
And that is where I find the Joy that I learn through. I find it in the freedom to choose each and every time what my course of action will be. It is the thrill of discovering anew which choice I’ll make this time: sit in the shit, punch my way through, or ignore it by quickly washing it off. It is the Joy of knowing that whatever my choice it is okay in the grand scheme of things. Of knowing that my choice is okay in the not-grand scheme of my everyday life.
I was reminded last night of the ebb and flow of the tide and what that constant process symbolically holds for me in my daily life. Clean lovely ocean water comes in, caresses the beach, and slides back out leaving behind debris. The debris is a mix of trash and treasure. Some is dull stones and seaweed and some is shiny stones and seashells. I can choose to pick up the shinies and shells. I can choose to stand in the dull and seaweed. Or I can walk away with neither trash nor treasure, shower, and continue my life. Any of those choices will be a Joyous one. Not because Joy is automatic, but because Joy is freedom to choose.
I have been sitting in shit this month. From a whole bunch of sides monkeys have been flinging their poo my way. And there I sat, smelling it, why-ing it, trying everything to change it to not shit. (It was still shit, untransformed.)
The odour has reached choking level. Pardon me while I go shower. While I feel this other kind of Joy.