Joy Through Sacrifice


Watching an interesting TED talk today about a young Arctic surfer (yes, you heard me right, that was Arctic surfer), he said something that really struck me–not about surfing, but about sacrifice. As you can imagine, someone who surfs in frigid waters does a fair amount of sacrificing.  He does it in part to get away from the normal tropic crowds, but also to take these amazing photographs. To paraphrase very loosely he said something like: most things worth any kind of real joy usually involve some kind of sacrifice.

That gave me pause.

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I began thinking about some of the things that take sacrifice but bring joy:

  • 9 months of carrying a baby: the worrying, the weight gain, the hormone shifts, the vomiting, the swelling, the potential dangers involved…
  • being in a relationship: any kind really. It’s constant ups and downs, bargaining (with the kids, partners, co-workers, family members), tears, give/take, compromises, giving away parts of yourself at times
  • having a dream or goal: these can take huge amounts of time, money, changes in lifestyle and re-evaluating ourselves for the final outcome
  • moving somewhere new: leaving friends and family behind; leaving a career or job, doing something scary, taking a leap of faith
  • starting over (with a job/a person/or alone: leaving your comfort zone, stretching parts of yourself you may not know you had, or totally remaking yourself
  • helping others or someone else: living with less than normal, learning about other cultures (which maybe is uncomfortable), focusing less on “me”
  • giving up something completely: getting used to life “without”, feeling what it’s like when others perceive because we are now “different”
  • changing our point of view for the greater good: getting into arguments (political/family?), battling within ourselves over the old point of view, reconciling what’s right/wrong
  • coming out: about our sexual orientation, addictions, mental health, illness, abuse, political view or anything else we’ve been keeping inside for fear of judgement, shame or condemnation
  • sharing our home with animals: limiting our work day, getting up in the middle of the night, cleaning up hair, poop and vomit off the floor
  • Waiting: for anything you want, it can be excruciating at times because we are a culture of wanting everything now, having patience is like hot iron swirling in our bellies…the loss of precious time while we wait
  • standing up for what you believe when others around you don’t agree: this can be going to rallies or being a vegan, it can bring agitation or arguments from others, confrontations or simply tiresome questions
  • sharing our home with children: never having peace and quiet (or rarely); suddenly realizing you have to sacrifice so much and become a very good teacher when you hardly know yourself (or much else for that matter…)

There are so many more things…what can you add to the list? And it all comes down to mindset like anything else really. We give to get. Nothing comes easily really.  It seems like many things feel like work these days, and trying to pick out the little pieces of joy can be tough. But when you think about the sacrifices we make all adding up to something beautiful–that it’s the wrapping surrounding the gift inside, then it doesn’t feel quite so much like drudgery. 

So when you are climbing that next mountain and it feels like hell: the boots are giving you blisters, the sweating like a banshee and the mosquitoes buzzing around your head: remember that when you get to the top you will see this incredible view of the world below. Every step you took to get there was worth what lies before you as you look out. See it as you breathe the joy and try to remember that you couldn’t have experienced the splendor without a bit of pain.

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Art: Blazing Hope


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Hope, I am perfectly willing to admit, is one of those things I’ve relied far too much on. My life hasn’t maybe been as tidy as I’ve wanted it to be, but I keep thinking it’s OK because I always have that thing called hope. It can be plastered on anything really and comes in handy for so many situations…

For you see, the discussions for me happen pretty much in my own head: over and over. That looping of thoughts, both of all the stuff that I shouldn’t have done–(it doesn’t last for too long anymore)–and that almost immediate glow of hope trying very hard to wipe out those other stale ruminations of the past.

So I talk with myself constantly (sometimes quite out loud)–trying to set the hope free: that burning hope. I figure if I keep this chatter on long enough, maybe eventually it will set ablaze and blast off into reality.

Poem: Wanting 


The prickled moment knowing 

it may never come 

yearning years of wanting

lost in sudden flash

the wishing bitter copper 

so deep there is no end

and moss has grown too thick 

to ever scale the walls 

Instead the moisture seeps 

so softly 

in cracks of solid stone

the hollow dripping 

remnants 

dragging desire 

till it’s gone

Poem: Chime


They blow through me

windy words sweep miles 

past desert shapes

caught in wisps of willows 

and carried on wings of butterflies 

Gusting din

heard as flying bells 

traveler to my inner 

outer space 

where not a breeze blows

Listen

for my song

as it drifts through air

displacing wave 

putting pressure on you

to hear

Doing Wrong


Sometimes we do something wrong to someone. Sometimes we know we do, sometimes we may not. How the other people handle this can be completely different.  And those differences have completely opposite outcomes for us.

I’ve been thinking about only two of those ways in which people deal when I have done something wrong–or even have ‘supposedly’ done something wrong. I say this because in one case, I don’t even know what I did.

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In that instance there have been a couple of times where I had very dear friends that just stop being my friend without any explanation. Even though I tried to find out why or what I may have done to illicit this behavior, I never could find out why. This, of course, is disturbing and hurtful. But eventually, something we must move on from.

The second is where someone doesn’t let you forget something that you’ve done wrong and continually reminds you. While they still are your friend, family or whatever–it can come up in conversation when you least expect it. They haven’t let go, completely forgiven or whatever, even if you may have apologized. This, while is slightly better because you are still communicating, can be difficult. It’s a constant reminder and keeps you both stuck in the past.

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I guess in the first case, a simple explanation would help. Everyone has the choice to move on from a friendship. But, to me at least, it seems kind to tell the person why, especially if you had something invested in your relationship. And the second case, once you have discussed the wrong doing, we must try to put it behind the best we can and not let it keep staining the present moments.

Of course there are many more times where wrong doings are completely forgiven and we go on even better because of them. They enrich our relationships because of giving us insights to each other and all our facets. When we can love all of someone, even the not so perfect, then that is really an honest kind of love.

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