I started this little experiment. I wanted to figure out little ways to bring creativity back into my life. I started journaling again, doing my best not to make it about the residency or my struggles but using prompts so it had a different focus. Just taking five minutes a day in the morning or evening to writing something about the prompts, I haven’t noticed a difference yet. However, I did notice that more creative projects started coming up in my life and most of them seemed like too much to do at the moment. Until I found this one, one little word. To journey through the year with one little word as my focus, again each month there would be prompts and suggestions but still room for creativity and exploration.
This seemed like something I could find enough time to do, just a little time each month. I first started brainstorming words, using some sparkly paper, because that is better. I came down to a few favorites, I came down to a few that I NEED to be working on, a few that I SHOULD be working on and a few that I didn’t care for. How to decide? The pressure is on, this word is going to be my focus for the year, it needs to be perfect. And there goes my little trap and struggle. I started talking with a friend, and a word came up. Coincidently a word that came up and stayed. I drew a little bit with my word and worked with it, deciding to wait with it.
Then the word showed up, I was in a seminar at work and we were working on vulnerability. We split into groups to do a little exercise, we spent ten minutes saying what we were closed to, and ten minutes saying what we were open to. There was no discussion, just taking turns going around in the circle. This realization hit me in the pit of my stomach, “joy” I am closed off to joy. I couldn’t stop the tears coming when I said that statement, tears of truth.
It is a well-known statement “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I hear that a lot, I am reminded of that a lot because my mind loves to compare to measure unlike objects. But joy is not this ecstatic moment where everything is perfect. Joy is showing up and being present. Joseph Campbell says “Find a place inside where there’s joy and the joy will burn out the pain.” It is only by feeling my pain, not minimizing it, not comparing it to someone else’s that I can find the joy in my life. It is about acknowledging my experience, asking for help if needed, crying and laughing.
How do I start? I had a crazy day yesterday, a day where each time I walked out of a patient’s room something else happened. I didn’t feel like I got a chance to breath, to stop and definitely not to reflect. Until this moment, someone was looking to refer me to another patient and she stopped me. She gave me a hug and said “you have no idea how happy we are that you are here.” When I got back to my office to chart, I let that sink in. Just showing up has an impact, that was joy.
Question of the day: Reflection, it is an integral part of the human experience, it is a pause to find meaning and purpose. Reflect on your day, your week or even this last month. Where was there pain? Where was there joy?