A Rediscovered Joy

The air was crisp, even slightly cold. It was winter after all. It had felt like winter for years, because a part of me had been stuck in permafrost for three years. This was the day it began to thaw.

A friend said she might go to the U2 concert in San Diego and buy a scalped tickets. So I drove down to La Jolla in order to be close if it really happened. The call never came. Instead, I walked around the streets of this amazing little town, and rediscovered a part of me that I forgot about. Wandering. And feeling the joy of just wandering. I felt alive. At last, the dawn began to show on the horizon.

For three years I was stuck in a cycle of anxiety. It is hard to describe unless you have experienced these overwhelming feelings. But all you can do is think about yourself…mostly thinking, “I feel awful. I wish I didn’t feel this way. I have no idea why I feel this way. And I have no idea how to get out.”  You get stuck in your head. It was no short slog through lots of counseling and praying and heart searching to climb out of that valley. But on this day, I started looking up from the ground and noticed beauty. On this day I broke out my tripod and started looking for beauty. I had forgotten to even look. Imagine, not even lifting your head to look for something, anything that brings a smile to your soul.

When I look back at the photos I took on that day, not much stands out. Maybe it was being rusty, maybe the subject matter wasn’t all that interesting. Even this photo, because the horizon wasn’t flat, seemed sort of “meh!” But I held on to it, there was something alive in it to me. I scanned it in, leveled the horizon, brought out the blue a little more, and voila! there is something alive to it. It looks like the dawn. I see the stars, the hopeful blue, the gnarled cypress having withstood wind and rain. This tree stood strong through night and day…a sentinel.

I love the origin of the word sentinel. One possible origin is from the Latin word sentire, which means “to hear, to feel, or perceive by the senses.” A perfect word for this particular moment. This evening I started to perceive by my senses, not just my feelings, for the first time in a long time. I started taking it all in. I rediscovered the hope and joy I felt when I looked up and observed the world. This was a moment of healing for me. When I intentionally started looking outside myself I actually started feeling joy again. This is a truth, I promise you this, when you look up from yourself, notice the world around you, and start engaging in the beauty of conversations you GET to feel joy. It is amazing that when you give of yourself to the world around you, you actually receive something powerfully healing and healthy. So take steps today to be a wanderer and an observer, look for something beautiful, and tell someone when you find something.

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