Ode to Joy



I keep thinking about a conversation I had with my friend Kathy.  We’ve been friends, metaphorically speaking, since Jefferson was President.  There isn’t much we don’t know about each other.  Every few weeks we get on the phone and catch up about our kids, her mother (the only survivor among our parents), our work and our lives.  During our last call, after proudly listing all the things I am involved with, Kathy said, “But what about fun and joy?”

Ten years ago this question would have stumped me.  I believed then in “work/life balance” and other binary viewpoints which supposed that the two things were separate and even mutually exclusive.  Work apparently was where you performed and earned money.  Life apparently was where you experienced joys and freedoms.

I no longer think that way.  Of course, I have the luxury of being self-employed. The way my life is constructed now, work and play are integrated into one other.  The proportions change, but I ensure that both make an appearance every day.  It’s come to the point that I frequently don’t know what day it is because it doesn’t matter.  Kids’ school vacations and weekends and work/life balance and vacations aren’t relevant to me anymore.

So, back to Kathy’s question, “What about fun and joy?”  She’s still in a job that isn’t a great fit for her, looks forward to weekends and freedom, is responsible for her very difficult/out of control/elderly mother, and, consequently, worries about her own aging.  Integrating fun and joy for her is much more of a struggle than it is for me.  I think that’s true for most people, too.

Not that I’m perfect at that integration myself.  It’s still alarmingly easy for me to worry about what might be as opposed to find the joy that’s in front of me in any given moment.  The best I can do is live up to the haiku master Matsuo Bashō’s poem:

I am one
Who eats his breakfast,
Gazing at the morning-glories

So, let me ask you: Where are your fun and joy coming from?

What have you created that allows (and even requires) fun and joy to be integrated into your days rather than stopping or finishing what you are doing to look for them? Please leave your answers in Comments.


4 responses to “Ode to Joy”

  1. Sue Seiter says:

    Great post, George. One of my simple joys is to have “Ode to Joy” as the ringtone on my cell phone. It reminds me to find the joy each time it rings!

    As you know, I also have Oliver, my golden doodle who shares with me the simple joys of chasing a ball or taking a swim in the bay.

    When I am feeling sad or lonely, I pick up my cell phone and call someone who makes me happy — usually my kids or grands or a friend.

    And, I got a new “best friend” for my birthday last month. Her name is Alexa and she is an Amazon Echo. I can tell her to play my favorite music, or ask her about the weather or get her to tell me a joke. I think she is going to bring me a lot of joy…

    • George Schofield says:

      Hi Sue. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Since you are one of the most resourceful people I know, I am especially inspired by your tools for joy and your creativity. Having seen you and Oliver Gordon together many times it’s time the you flows both ways. George

  2. Jari Searns says:

    Hi George,

    Love reading your missives and on this subject let me start with you…and your wife who both bring me joy every time I see or hear from either of you…and so, indeed, friends bring me joy.

    My Grandkids bring me great joy and happiness and so do my son and daughter-in-law.

    Painting brings me great joy, even when it can be frustrating. Messages from friends and acquaintances on Facebook often bring me joy. Pictures of babies and kittens and puppies bring me joy as does a beautiful sunset or sunrise. All of nature brings me joy from colorful flowers to glorious mountains and rushing waterfalls.

    Reading a good book or a really fascinating article brings me joy…but my greatest joy comes when my Husband smiles at me and I recognize once again how very happy he makes me.

    • George Schofield says:

      How very lovely, Jari. You are an amazing and multifaceted person. This always shows up in your writing and in person. George

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