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  • Clara Mei

The paradox of what "joy" really means...

I was searching for an old Facebook post and came across this one I had forgotten about. It’s from 2 ½ years ago and it’s lesson that I’ve kept with me, on so many times since then.

“It's my birthday and I can cry if I want to, cry if I want to. You'd cry too if it happened to you..." Because of various unexpected issues- a planned trip to be with my family for my birthday this year didn't work out. And so today was hard in many ways. But here I am, also feeling blessed to be living where we are right now too. I was reminded when reading something today that I can feel joy and also sadness at the same time. I haven't seen my family in 14 months and this would have also been the first time to celebrate together in over 10 years. So to say I was disappointed is an understatement... But I am also incredibly thankful for their support and love through time and space. And I am thankful that if I have to make this compromise, it's in a place like this. The paradox of being present for joy and sadness at the same time is a lot of heart and soul work. But such is the well-meaning life I try to intentionally live...Instead of a picture with my first family like I had envisioned, here's a picture of my second family a few weeks ago in the lavender fields of Provence...”

Have you ever had these intense mixed, confusing feelings at the same time before? I think motherhood has also definitely brought this out in me A LOT! It is truly a weird feeling to be emotional, crying, feeling scattered- for example- when your children reach new milestones. Because I also feel proud and happy! So why am I crying?? My daughter just turned 10! Yay- now hand me some tissues please! My son graduated German elementary school! “Yay! Where are my tissues?!”

So I said to some friends recently, that I think this mixture of happy and sad at the same time is the soul expressing the more all-encompassing larger feeling of joy. In my Facebook post, I used the word “joy”- but I think the better word would be “happy”. Because when I’m happy- I’m not also sad. And I think “joy” is just one of those words- those feelings that comes from deep in the soul. And so “joy” is one of those BIG emotions when you feel more than one feeling at the same time for the same issue. I think what can be so tricky is because to express both happiness and sadness at the same time, requires a lot of heart and soul work, like I mentioned in the Facebook post. And it also requires A LOT of acceptance for the present moment, which during these times or life experiences can change from one minute to the next. We have to be okay with literally laughing and smiling one second and the next, asking for the tissue to wipe away tears.

The amazing thing about knowing true joy, though- is that just in allowing ourselves to feel it- we learn that a full, genuine, authentic life can’t exist just in one way. Life isn’t about either/or, it’s about being okay with the and/but of life…Lots of tricky stuff for sure…Let me know if you need help sorting through your mixed-confusing emotions.

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