Find Joy even when the world is burning up

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

What a headline right? Because us finding joy right now is quite the difficult thing to achieve…or is it?

Right now as the world burns, as floods destroy, as war rages, as the economy tanks, as Canada fights with big techs, we feel sad, angry, guilty. We are conditioned to sink into human suffering, conditioned to show distress when others hurt.

You know what? that is ok to spend five minutes every day reflecting on that. We can send a prayer up into the universe to join all the others out there. Strength in numbers does work. We can donate what little we can part with from our own tiny budget. We can hug a friend whose family was affected. We can care without beating ourselves up, we can share without giving everything away. There is no time left for us to be martyrs, but there is always, always room for empathy and love, and above all, for kindness.

Over the last two years my partner and I have both been fighting cancer. We are warriors and survivors. We could not have made it without my empathy-filled, kind, fantastical human being, daughter, Tash. Along with her, there were teams of doctors and nurses, a healthcare system that really works, and my family and friends who showed up every day. I have learnt to find joy through them, and for them.

Joy is such a simple word. It is also the simplest of things to achieve, true joy does not cost a dime, so go ahead and try it out for size.

I find joy in walking in the morning’s light on Vancouver seawall, where the air tastes like honey because I deem it so.

A body of water with trees in the background

I find joy in spending quality time with my siblings; our conversations are so wonderful, because for the first time I really listen, and I talk about my feelings too. I hear their journey as I share mine, I am a strength not a fixer, and so are they. And we all love this new way. Too often in the past when we hear of one of us struggling with some new thing, our instinct was to contribute and fix, to feel guilt because it is happening to them and not me, but that is not why we are here. We are here for each other, to be a strength and a joy. To be in the sidelines waiting to be asked for help when the need is great. Our journeys are unique to each of us and we must traverse and triumph our own way.

I find joy in spending a whole day with my daughter. I find joy in listening to her tell me what needs fixing about me. Or listening to her talk about her wonderful new world, where she is living her dream job. I find joy that I am self-caring so she can have a mama-okay, stress free life. She deserves so much joy, and me living in joy helps her find peace.

woman and man wearing sunglasses and touching beer glasses

I find joy in exploring Chicago neighbourhoods with my sister.

A woman in pink jacket standing on sidewalk next to fence.

I find joy in farmers markets, where the aromas of fresh produce, the lively chat of farmers, the country singers strumming away on guitars, the dogs on leashes, the delicious smells emanating from food trucks, and the random bakers offering up delectable baked goods from bread and croissants to empanadas and beyond.

A bouquet of flowers in a bowl on top of a table.

I find joy in seeing diversity all around me. Joy in my friends and our long conversations, joy in watching the adorably kind Ted Lasso Apple Tv show with my partner because he looks at peace for the first time in his life..

Joy is here, it is there, it is everywhere. Joy is inside of us, it is waiting like a baby in a crib, waiting to be noticed so it can unleash that pure innocent joyous smile from deep within our souls.

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