Friday, 19 November 2021

Finding value in joy

There was a time in my life when I measured the value of my life by my work. Even though I felt valued at school and in the classroom, the system didn't bring me joy. I had the opportunity in the past to climb the ladder but chose not to. In retrospect, I realize that my decision saved my life.

I know many people who live by their status and reputation. They live by comparison. As a consequence, they are governed by status, brands, and competitive living styles, and walk around with an enormous "should" on their shoulders. I've come to realize, for me, it's okay to not always do what I think I should or what others expect of me. It's okay to say no without having regrets. It's okay if I don't drive the car I can afford. It's okay to retire early if something steals my sanity, peace, or joy. And it's okay to rest and to be alone.

Since the day I was diagnosed with my irreversible illness, I have allowed myself to adopt an “I can’t ... anymore” mentality. And then my brother died. Yes! On 25 October 2021, my brother (51) who lived with us collapsed and died. Over the course of two profound weeks, we packed up his things and then my mother's. My mother went to Langebaan to stay with my sister. My husband, daughter, and I sold their furniture and painted their flat, which left me bent and filled with sorrow.

Despite my apparent unhappiness, my brain was rewiring itself. During this time, regardless of what I thought I was doing, I was getting back on my feet again (figuratively)! I didn't plan it. It just happened. 

I don’t have to question it because it’s natural for me to be resilient. I've always had the ability to get up once life has knocked me down. Instinctively, I know that the only way forward is for me to keep on moving (figuratively)!

I’ve had five days of debilitating pain, including today! Yet, with the rewiring, I seem to be on a different wavelength. I'm recognizing all the little things and moments that bring joy to my heart.

And even while I say this, everything is changing. Nothing stays the same. My husband is selling his business and we are packing up as a family. Soon, we will be moving to Langebaan to start a new chapter of our lives. This is causing a lot of stress.

Reflecting on what has happened, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the past two weeks is this: Joy can be found when we stop living a life of negativity, criticizing and complaining and hating life, feeling sorry for ourselves, or focusing on everything that is bad, ugly, and cruel. 

This lesson gives me renewed hope for tomorrow.


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