Some Days I Need to Choose to Not See the Mess
(From Within My Illusions)
There’s a giant inflatable orca in my entry hall.
I’ve kicked him closer to the front door
To clear a path from my daughter’s room to mine
So she won’t trip when she makes her 2 a.m. visit.
Now it looks like he’s standing guard.
A pile of cheap, made-in-China toys
Hatched from pastel plastic eggshells,
Dumped next to a pink basket.
Flowers once vibrant
Begin to wilt.
Phones, Pads, and Books
Tethered to walls.
Remote control batteries
Abandoned on countertops
Instead of in the recycling box.
I really should buy the rechargeable kind.
Stacks of washed containers
Piled high on the right side of the sink,
The left side blissfully empty.
Paper and books and journals
Piled in stacks
Kitchen table crafts,
A football by the fireplace,
Snowball has claimed the sofa.
But over here,
In this corner that’s just mine
I can sit and rest my mind,
Reflect on the day’s love
And not the stress.
I can choose not to see the mess.
A few weeks ago, around the June solstice, I started to experiment with a practice I'm calling Joy Baskets. (You can read about the practice and my inspiration for it here.) I'd been feeling a heaviness and wondered what would happen if I set an intention to notice the moments that spark joy for me each day for 40 days.
Without changing my plans.
Without grasping or longing.
Without ignoring the density I was feeling.
More like clearing space inside myself for the possibility that a lightness was already present. Like tuning the dial on the radio to a different station and lingering for a song or two. I was curious, but had no idea what would actually happen if I tried it.
Halfway through this experiment, I'm reminded of how powerful it can be to set intentions and focus attention. I allow myself to linger a little longer when I start laughing or smiling. I stop what I'm doing to really soak in the expressions on my friends' faces in a wedding photo they text me. I follow the impulse to start rearranging the furniture in my house, despite the mess it creates, because I love the way it feels to have a fresh layout.
There's a lot swirling these days. My friend and fellow poet Nico Cary says that grief is a portal to remembering that which is sacred to us. It tells us, "This is worth crying over." It feels to me like joy stands hand-in-hand at that portal to the sacred. The Joy Basket practice has been reminding me of what love and beauty feel like, renewing my capacity for hope.
Wishing you sparks of joy in the swirl and love in the mess.
My Joy Basket sits in the middle of a messy living room. Each day I add a note or an item to the jar as a reminder of a moment that sparked joy. I decorated the jar with stickers and yarn and sprinkled a couple drops of one of my favorite fragrances inside so every time I open it, I get a whiff.