Written by Megan from Velveteen Mind
I don't understand why I don't find joy more interesting. I don't understand why I don't find reading books and blogs or watching movies about happiness or satisfaction more, well, satisfying. I noticed that when reading other people's blogs, I usually only skim the "we had a great day today" posts. Sunshine and puppy dogs just don't capture my attention. It's not that I'm anti-sunshine and puppy dogs. I'm all for happiness. However, I just don't seem to be interested in reading about it. Or writing about it, for that matter.
Now playing in my head, "I'm Only Happy When It Rains" by Garbage.
The most enthralling and captivating writing for me is that which focuses on a challenge, a problem, a question. Something that engages me and seems to invite me into the experience. If the author is having a great day, I'm happy for them and appreciate their sharing their good times, but I don't feel compelled to post a blog comment like, "Ditto! Rainbows rule!" Yet if the author is mulling over some kind of tumultuous issue, I feel invited into the story, compelled to offer either advice or sympathy. In the best scenario, I can offer empathy. Even if I don't respond, I feel more engaged than I would to a story about, say, a perfect day at the beach.
I recently wrote a blog comment in response to a post about a perfect day at the beach with your children, commenting that it is the simple moments of uncomplicated happiness that make up the best childhood memories. I believe that. I love simple pleasures. I don't look for the negative. Quite the contrary, in fact. However, I have very little interest in exploring these simple and beautiful days. Nothing in me feels compelled to record them for posterity, beyond photographs.
Hence, huge spans of peaceful time represented in my journals by one little side note. This is ironic, because I firmly believe that our worst suffering in life will only be a footnote in our history. Keep your pain in perspective, as it will be over someday, you will make it through. However, in the meantime, address it, work through it, learn from it. Write about it.
Other people's issues make us feel connected. We learn from the experiences of others, particularly when they make mistakes or suffer injustices. Much more interesting than fairy dust and roses, don't you think?
Perhaps it is that I find more satisfaction in happiness hard won. Happiness for which I longed, for which I ached. I once heard someone say that they loved to get a charley horse. When asked why, they responded, "It hurts something fierce, yes, but when it's over, it just feels soooo good."
In the great SAT analogy of life, suffering is to foreplay as joy is to orgasm. You could certainly have stand-alone joy, but isn't it that much more enthralling when you've had to work for it a little? When you've had to massage out the aches and focus on what you want? Now, that kind of joy I find interesting, particularly if I'm privy to the road leading up to it.
Suffering cuts through all of the surface noise, cuts through to the heart of us, allowing joy to take root. That interests me.
Relish the Velveteen. Revel in the Threadbare. Life of a Mom Articulate.
Megan is a mother of two boys under three, writing about living with perspective, serious doses of humor, and a grateful heart. Full color illustrations included, of course. Join her at www.velveteenmind.com as she relishes the velveteen and revels in the threadbare of her articulate life.