Microdosing Reality

The Generous Heart: Sharing Joy

“Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then it will really be a good day.” ~ Br. David Steindle-Rast, from the Insight Meditation: A Good Day, A Grateful Day

To feel that the world is beautiful, that life is beautiful, is to experience pure joy. To open your heart fully. To share that experience requires complete vulnerability.

One of my closest friends shares seemingly everything that brings her joy – her favorite music, the latest food discovery, even her favorite banking institute. She shares what brings her happiness freely and enthusiastically, without seeking anything in return.

Recently, I read the quote, “If something makes you happy, protect it.” On the surface, it makes complete sense. People can be cruel, even with the best of intentions. And sharing something precious exposes it to ridicule, misunderstandings, and questions. Like the old saying about ships being safe in a port but meant for the sea, happiness can be kept safe by locking it away, but it is intended to be shared. It grows exponentially when given freely, without expectation, without an agenda.

I woke up thinking about my friend and how she embodies the opposite of protecting what makes her happy. How my world has been greatly enriched by her sharing. Reflecting on her unguarded generosity, I contemplated the broader implications of sharing our joys.

I woke up remembering how full of love, life, and gratitude I felt last night as I fell asleep. How I thought, “This world is an amazing place. Life is sacred; each breath a precious gift. Fully knowing the holiness of the universe is within reach of every single being because it is within every single being. Every. Single. Being.”

And then I got scared. This fear, however, is not of joy itself but of the vulnerability that comes with acknowledging it amidst life’s challenges. I thought, “These thoughts, Rooze… With all you’ve been through, all you’ve known, all you see in the world right now, today… How can you think such things?”

How can you not, my friend? How can you not acknowledge the joy you feel with each bird you hear, each bite of food eaten, each conversation with someone you love, each breath taken? In each moment, the softness of life reminds you that it, too, exists. That if you only open your eyes and your heart, it cannot help but make itself known, make itself felt. 

Sometimes, the part of me that has suffered does not want to allow me to open my eyes or my heart. It wants to continue to protect me, to hide me behind cynicism and fear. For so long, the part of me that has suffered did a tremendous job protecting the soft core of who I am by keeping it in a box, hidden away from those who sought to destroy it.

It did such a great job hiding that which is holy and sacred within me that it took me many years to allow myself to see it. To experience happiness and beauty without fear of what will happen next. I thought that core of being was something I could only experience when life was going well, when things were good, because the less-than-stellar moments of life might destroy my capability to still feel joy if I wasn’t careful with it.

I’m only now starting to understand how strong softness and love can be. How the sacred core of beauty can persist through so much trauma, through generations of pain, and still be ready to be seen, to be known.

And, most importantly, to be shared. In embracing this shared vulnerability, we allow our softness and love to not just survive but blossom, blessing all around us as Br. David Steindle-Rast summons us to do.

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