||Journeys of Joy, Journeys of Sorrow
I’m sitting in an airport lounge at the moment, wondering what will emerge as an experiment for this week. I’m on my way to see a sick friend, so this is a trip filled with mixed emotions. As I sit here, I see all the people around me – everyone on a journey of their own. Over the years that I’ve been a therapist, the one thing I’ve learned is that everyone – absolutely everyone – has experiences that touch them with both joys and sorrows. I know this deeply and am reminded of it each time I sit down to talk with someone, no matter where I am or what the occasion.
As I look around me this evening, I wonder about all these people. I know that if we had time to talk, we’d discover a common connection in the fact that we’ve each faced challenges along the way – some relatively easy to meet and some that seemed overwhelming at the time. I also know that we would share the experience of having had unexpectedly delightful moments, surprises brought by life that filled us with good feelings.
And so, for this week’s experiment, I invite you to be aware of your own journey of joy and sorrow – of how you moved through the challenges and delights of life thus far. The important thing to know is that these moments are inevitable – both the good ones and the hard ones. They are part of the journey of being human. If you find yourself focusing on losses you’ve had in your life, notice that experience. Then, when you have the internal space to do so, recall something that represents the opposite – a moment that’s happened in your life that brought you something that was the opposite of sorrow.
And, as part of this week’s experiment, I also invite you to explore how you feel when you acknowledge that everyone you encounter has had their share of joys and sorrows as they’ve moved through their lives. Whether you like these people or not, notice how it is to recognize that they suffer in ways similar to everyone else. This is part of developing compassion – to know that everyone has the capacity to suffer and that everyone wants to feel free from suffering. It’s an inevitable part of being human.
As you explore this experiment, notice what happens in your experience when you recognize the connection we all have, through our capacity to both suffer and have joy and delight. Is this something that makes you more comfortable with people and, perhaps, less judgmental of them? How is it to focus on what’s the same about us rather than what may be different or irritating?
Also, notice how it is for you to acknowledge that, for yourself, there’s no way to avoid the sorrows in life, even as it’s inevitable that there will also be moments of joy along the way? This is yet another opportunity to tap into the flow that is life – an opportunity to move through the present moment with awareness rather than struggle.