Henry Nouwen said:
Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find.
They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck?
Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.
What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.
I DISAGREE. I COULD NOT DISAGREE MORE. How dare he? I did not choose to have major depression, it seems to have chosen me. But I know I have to choose to fight it like it is an enemy that wants me dead. Yes, I have something inside me that surfaces from time to time. I feel powerless against it but I have learned that I am not without choices.
I did not choose to be an addict – though in recovery – I have to accept the fact that I can’t drink. Not ever again. The very fact that it still bothers me and I feel sad about the loss, well that reminds me that I’m an addict if I had any doubt. There was a time when I thought I couldn’t live without alcohol. Now I know that I can. I choose to be a recovering alcoholic.
But I have not found joy. I am not choosing joy. I am choosing life. I am happy. I feel a certain level of contentment. But I am restless. I do not feel joy. At least not yet. Perhaps I am failing to CHOOSE IT.
Choose joy – okay – I suppose on a certain level I have to agree just like … I choose LIFE. I choose not to smoke which is slow suicide. I choose not to drink which was a death sentence. I choose to get up, even when I want to sleep forever. I still have those mornings. And I choose to create, and love and … I choose to think that what I do matters even when the ‘voices in my head’ tell me it is all worthless. And it wouldn’t matter if I stopped. Stopped thinking. Stopped writing. Stopped shooting. Stopped.
Some days it is still just choosing to breathe.
That little girl above – a chubby toddler gazing out of that airplane door — innocent, curious, tentative, that’s me too. She had no idea how hard it would be to choose.