After I got divorced I went through a horrible stretch of depression. I didn't understand what that felt or looked like until that time. For me it was like carrying around weights all day long. I moved slower. I sat or laid on the couch a lot. I didn't eat much. It was a hell of a diet. I remember going to bed at 7:30 and waking up at midnight. On work days I arrived at school sometimes at 5:00am and sat in a dark room silently. It was the physical toll that sticks in my mind.
The thing that dragged me out of this funk was mostly guided meditation on Insight Timer. It's a phone app. It was the first thing my yoga teacher Maureen advised me to do when I spoke to her on the phone. She told me to download the app. It might have saved my life. There were a couple specific teachers that had a big impact on me. Noah Elkrief is the one that helped me the most. His talk on how to get over a break up was my favorite. I listened to it over and over. The key component that spoke to me was that we can't make other people happy. That's a statement that yields some confrontational conversations. I believe him. Sarah Blondin was my second favorite. Her mediations on facing change had a big impact on how I see the future. Change can lead to a better place. Perhaps not so comfortable at first, but a better world if we open ourselves to the possibilities.
We can't make others happy and they can't make us happy. We can share moments of joy and pleasure, but it's not the person. Can another's mere presence make us happy? Can they delete the negative thoughts that come into our head? No. We can't control other's thoughts. I strongly believe we can have an impact on the happiness of others, but it's not me or you inheritantly that brings someone else joy. It's up to us individually to find joy each day. If we're lucky, we can share that joy with someone else.
My joy today was meeting two young ladies and cooking with them at school. We made a dessert together. This is Zoey and a Bella. They both teach Mandarin in the younger grades here at HIS.
My neighbor Paulo led this session in the school kitchen. He offered three recipes and had all the ingredients waiting for us. We picked this recipe to make a chocolate dessert. Brigadeiro, a traditional Braziallian treat.
It was super fun meeting two teachers that I hadn't interacted with yet. I learned some things about both of them and look forward to bumping into them both around school. Bella has a daughter and it was cool to learn that her daughter is very quiet and likes to read and draw. Hmmm. Sounds like my favorite young lady back home. When completed this was our result. They were supposed to be rounder, but they didn't have the thickness to remain spherical. Whatever, they tasted great.
This is me finding joy today. Meeting some new people and cooking together. Learning some interesting things about them. I made new friends. That's a challenge for me being quiet and avoiding crowds.
Notice the tongue. Not sure why, but serious concentration leads to this for me. I guess I can live with that. There's some greatness out there that also had the same habit.
Another joy for me tonight is my poker game. I've got a full table ready to go tonight at 6:00. If I want to be happy, if I want to find joy, it's on me, my responsibility. There's other activities I enjoy quite a bit. Golf. Movies. Travel. Teaching math and helping students with complex ideas. This is what I like to do. I plan to continue doing it. My advice? Find joy. Don't wait. Don't rely on others for it. That doesn't mean you can't find joy with friends, family, or even strangers. It means the pursuit of happiness is a participation sport. Get in the game and take a hack at life.
My gut tells me I'm about to find a new joy this summer. His name is Arthur. Leaving him for another year might be tough. We shall see. Will I be a better grandpa than a father? For the moment I plan to keep using the time I have in my daily joy hunt. Maybe a trip to Xian at the end of the month with Ivy? See how far west of the school I can make it on my bike as our weather improves? Try another new random food here in China? The adventure continues. I'm so glad you're following along as I dump my thoughts out for all to read.