In recent years I have made a strange and wonderful discovery: I am much happier than I thought. And this joy has been there all along… even when I couldn’t feel it.
This discovery was prompted by a car accident in 2011. It was one of those hit by drunk driver, spinning on the LA freeway, totaled car sort of crashes. The kind of thing (if you walk away from it) that strips life down to the bone so you can only feel it in its barest parts.
At the time I was in a relationship which was in a hard place. There was so much love between us, but he was caught in descending cycles of ever-darkening moods, while I was in an unexpected upward drift into a thriving yoga teaching career. In order to connect, we had to find a place where we could both see each other.
The place we managed to meet was usually in the shadows. It seems that when one person is caught in a downward pull, it’s not possible to climb out for a few minutes to meet the other who might be in an upward spin. And so the only place to meet is on the frequency of despond or dis-ease.
Before the car accident, this worked out okay. Life was sufficiently enthralling. I had identified as a tormented artist for years. So there was still plenty of magic in the shadows.
But what the accident knocked me into was this bone deep awareness of my own joy. And try though I might to meet up in those shadows, I kept getting distracted by beams of light that would slice them in half and lift my eyes up and out the window.
Because I no longer had a car and I was afraid to get into cars, I was biking all over the city to get to my yoga teaching jobs. When I needed to get over the hills to the valley I would put my bike on the rack on the front of the bus and ride it up and over Laurel Canyon, then take it off and keep pedaling.
During those weeks I didn’t want to blind my boyfriend with the glare of my joy. So I would experience it privately in these little moments throughout my day.
I remember once I was sitting on a sagging, half broken wooden bench on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the Valley. Under the canopy of a little tree, I was waiting for the bus to pick me up and take me over the hill back towards home. It was one of those scorching hot Valley days. My bike helmet was propped on my head, with the buckle hanging unbuckled. And I was just so filled with joy.
I knew that empty little bus stop was an okay place to feel it – it wouldn’t bother anyone there. So I just let myself feel this extraordinary light pulsing throughout my body and beaming through everything in my view.
Of course there have been many ups and many downs since then. Moods and circumstances that have pulled me this way and that. But when I stop and get quiet and look for the joy, it always shocks me how much joy there is right here, just waiting. This big bright room within.
Perhaps this doesn’t apply to all of you, but I have a feeling that some of you might also be unexpectedly joyful beneath the surface and circumstances of your daily life.
Feel down now, under your skin, under the stories of what needs to get done, what should never have happened, or what you should’ve done… avail yourself to this inexplicable glow of wellbeing…
Can you feel it waiting right there, already inside you?