Yesterday, when it was actually mild enough here in Denver that I did not need to wear four sweaters, I went for a walk. It was still fairly early in the day and I was the only one around, making my lazy way along the path that weaves back and forth throughout the small park in my neighborhood for about a mile all told. I walked and I thought about my life and what a strange journey it has been.
This time last year I had just gotten engaged. I was working full time on a project at work that was a reasonably healthy mix of frustrating and challenging. I was living with my fiancee in a lovely little townhouse. I came home every night and fed my cat.
As I meandered I thought to myself, what was wrong with that life? Why wasn’t I happy? On the surface, it looked like I was achieving so much. Of course, that’s often how everything looks, isn’t it? On paper, our lives can seem completely normal or utterly bonkers and it doesn’t reflect at all what complexities are unfolding in our hearts and minds at the time.
Cut to present day: I have been on my own for three months. I am dating a caring and brilliant man who makes me incredibly happy. I am living with my mother, brother and sister; we laugh and share our stories together every day. I have no job (woo-hoo!) and keep myself busy with interesting schoolwork and beloved writing projects. I come home every night and chronicle my daily adventures large and small in my journal.
I was reflecting on all of these changes as I tooled around the path and felt the sun warm and comforting on my face. I was about to make my way back home when I turned and spied a swing set. I have always loved to swing; I did it so often as a kid that I would make myself dizzy.
I paused in my tracks, double checked to make sure no one was watching, and then rushed for the play structure. I quickly realized that this sort of thing now counts as exercise and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this hard to get going when I was a kid. Cardio aside, it was so fun.
I giggled to myself as I swung higher and higher. I kicked off my shoes and watched my bare toes press against the brightening sky. And then I had an epiphany.
This, I thought, is what was missing from my former life. Joy.