Yesterday I experienced an unexpected gift. I was catching the Manly Fast Ferry into the city and had paid my fare and was queuing to board the vessel. Things were at a stand still and the crew weren’t letting anyone board. Folks waiting in the queue started to get a bit restless as the minutes ticked by and still no movement. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one my favourite dock crew motioning me towards him. I reversed through the line of passengers to connect with him. He let me know the ferry was experiencing engine trouble and probably wouldn’t be leaving the dock anytime soon. He also said if I very quickly scooted over to the next dock I could catch the Big Ferry into the city and would only be delayed by 15 minutes.
On a typical day this would be a kind and thoughtful gift. But on this day it was a perfectly timed miracle since I was heading into the city for an interview and any further delay would have made my first impression one of unorganised lateness! Thrilled to switch docks I was quickly on my way when John shouted behind me “And since you’ve already paid I’ll make sure to give you a few free trips!”
JOY is definitely the headline when things unfold with such synchronicity in life. Stay open and connected to the people around you . . . you never know when they might just deliver a miracle.
An incredibly joyful friend recently shared that she’s been diagnosed with an incurable, degenerative disease. And as she shared her news, I made that face. The one that speaks of pain, disbelief, injustice and fear. As soon as she saw my face she said “don’t do that to me . . . don’t feel sorry for me!” At the time I thought it was the most courageous and intelligent reaction I’ve ever witnessed. How quickly are we to place our fear and outrage onto others when they share these unfair twists of fate? Instead, perhaps we need to listen for and ask what they need from us after trusting us with their own deep confidences.
This recent chapter was echoed while reading an incredible book by Stephen Levine who eloquently shares:
“Pity arises from meeting pain with fear. Compassion comes when you meet it with love.”
This is such a noble and powerful approach to pain. I wonder how often we can meet our own pain or that of others with pure love? It feels like an incredibly daunting challenge, and yet to consider the ramifications of pity and fear . . . perhaps its enough inspiration to try a new approach.
Over the past few months my various communities have been drifting away, leaving me feeling a bit like an untethers balloon. After calling Bondi home for more than a decade, the move over the bridge to Manly felt quite significant. In Manly I started feeling a lack of friends down the hall, on my doorstep and the familiarity of having the shopkeeper greet me enthusiastically as Winnie! (WI + MPLS). Not to mention the barista knowing my rather unusual coffee order and the early morning beach runners all offering friendly good mornings and quips about the ocean temps and blue bottles. On the work front I’ve been leaving my job so perhaps without conscious intention, I’ve been creating a bit of distance from my professional colleagues as well. And to add insult to injury – literally – I’ve acquired torn shoulder tendons so I haven’t been able to practice yoga properly for almost three months. My key communities were indeed missing in action and to be honest, I was throwing an ity bity pity party for myself in advance of my birthday. Instead of pondering on the distance between me and my amazing group of various friends and supporters, I thought of a way to draw them close. Inviting 50 or so folks from around the globe to participate, the Joy Jar began. Each person received an invitation to answer 3 questions and mail their answers back to me:
My Favorite Joy button is __________________________________
Joy multiples when ______________________________________
I spread Joy by ______________________________________
As the brightly colored strips found their way back me, the jar filled to overflowing with fantastic notions of levity and happiness. Throughout the year ahead, my intention is to draw out one slip each day, reflect on that unique aspect of Joy and then reveal the author on the back as someone to draw close for the next 24 hours. Disconnected from my favorite people? Wallowing in self-pity? Nope, the pull of JOY is simply too strong.