Carrying joy inside

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“Whatever we once had that was beautiful, but is now gone … is inside us now. The ‘beauty of beauty,’ the ‘joy of joy’ is never lost.”

I love this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. As I’m going about my days, full of energy and able-bodied, as I’m digging in the earth or holding a child’s soft hand or teaching a dance class – all of these things I love so much – I sometimes think of what life will be like when I can’t do these things anymore, or when my children are grown.

What will fill my days then? Will I be sad, lonely, lost without my kids in my daily life and without so many of the pursuits that make me feel alive and anchor me and give me purpose?

How did my grandma, who loved to cook so much and to show love through cooking, feel when she was unable to cook anymore? She never expressed outward sadness to me about it when she gradually lost the ability to make meals like she used to, or when she turned to heating microwave meals or making sandwiches. Later, she couldn’t manage even that anymore, and later, I sat with her and spoon-fed her as she worked to recover from a stroke. She lit up like a Christmas tree when my dad and her son visited – her tie to her life as a young wife and mother. I think she carried the joy inside.

“All that has ever been beauty and joy and love in your life, no matter what happened next, no matter what broke, or became unable, or died or went away … all the beauty and joy and love in your life is inside you now.”

I hope to dig a little deeper, hold on to a hand a little tighter, to dance just a little more and to soak up the feel of the breeze on my face and to carry that joy inside always.

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