When I was eight years old, I got my first dog. My sister had gone down to California to live with my father and I was very lost and all alone. A family friend convinced my mother that the answer was a puppy. Scamper was a little, black, curly haired cock-a-poo. She was an amazing playmate and helped me rediscover joy in my life.
Joy came to Scamper particularly easily. One of her greatest joys was in late spring when my mother planted rows of yellow marigold flowers and bright red salvias. Scamper would promptly get to work biting off the marigold flowers. She was not a particularly well trained little dog. She would throw the flowers in the air. Catch them. Run in circles with them in her mouth. Roll in them. And finally she would eat them. We were left with long rows of green marigold plants with no flowers. My mother did not find any joy in this. My dog could not contain her joy. We all find our moments of joy in different ways.
The big joys come from the relationships that develop with the people who are there for us over the long haul. The people that let us know that we matter and that we are special. We don’t even need to see these people frequently. These are the kindred spirits that help to sustain us through the hard times and celebrate the good times. Then there are the people who we cross paths with and we develop relationships that are situational. They are fun and filled with laughter and open us to other ways of being and doing. Often as the context shifts , the relationships fade into the background. They are fun while then last.
As the complexity of life and the demands of work and home increase, joy can get lost. People are not always kind and do not always give you the benefit of the doubt or struggle to find joy themselves. Demands can feel insurmountable in a 24 hour period.
For me, the answer is to go on a deliberate quest to find joy on a daily basis. The beautiful thing about working in a school is that it is filled with kids. Joy is always close at hand. Stories. Smiles. Questions. Explanations. Pondering. Witnessing joy in accomplishments.
I ran into a colleague not too long ago. She said “Yeah, I was thinking about your joy thing. I tried it. I like it. It actually works.” I love being known for my “joy thing”. I am looking forward to summer joy. In summer, I don’t have to go looking for joy. It finds me. Beaches. Books. Lakes. Laughter. Friends. Family. Biking. Golf. I’ve even discovered that marigolds are actually edible and will definitely order a salad with marigold flowers in it. Who knew, Scamper was on to something! The things you can learn from your dog! Joy in eating marigolds.