It took me a couple of years to understand and integrate this information, and to start to cultivate gratitude practice. Ellen on the other hand, seemed to intuitively understand the importance of acknowledging and owning joy. When she was in the first grade, we played hooky one afternoon and spent the day at the park. At one point we were on a paddle boat feeding ducks stale bread that we had brought from home, when I realized that she had stopped pedaling and was sitting perfectly still in her seat. Her hands were around the bread sack, her head tilted back, and her eyes were closed. The sun was shining on her uplifted face. I was so struck by her beauty and her vulnerability that I could barely catch my breath.
I watched her for a full minute, but when she didn’t move, I got a little nervous.” Ellie? Is everything okay, sweetie?”
Her smile widened and she opened her eyes. She looked at me and said, “I’m fine, Mama. I was just making a picture memory”
I had never heard of a picture memory, but I liked the sound of it. “What does that mean?”
“Oh, a picture memory is a picture I take in my mind when I’m really, really happy. I close my eyes and take a picture, so when I am feeling sad, scared or lonely, I can look at my picture memories.”
I’m not as eloquent or poised as my then six year old daughter, but I have been practicing. For me, expressing gratitude is still bumpier than it is graceful or fluid. I still get overwhelmed with vulnerability in the midst of joyful experiences. But now, I’ve learned to literally say aloud,” I’ m feeling vulnerable and I’m so grateful for xxxx'”
This is an excerpt from the book ‘Daring Greatly.’ The author is speaking about how when we are happy, we become terrified that things are going to change. We forebode joy because we imagine we cannot have it that good. We try to push away the joy because we are scared that it won’t last and if it does, there is so much karma on the horizon. We imagine that it is a sin to be happy and that soon we will be punished for it.
On my journey reading this book, I have discovered so much about defense mechanisms and what it means to be vulnerable. It means to feel your heart is on the line and be perfectly okay with it. It means looking at your life, thinking you have it good and not trying to self sabotage. The author spoke about how when she interviewed people about when they felt most vulnerable, they spoke about their happiest moments. A mother when they first held their baby in their arms, a young lady when she first said yes to the man of her dreams or a father when their son was going off to the college. It has to be a deliberate effort not to associate good things with tragedy, light with darkness and joy with pain.
Do you have it good? Are things going so well and you are worried you are wearing your karma thin? Fight the urge to forebode joy, grab yourself a handful of gratitude and float around because you deserve it. To read more posts by Angela, click HERE .