THE BLOG
05/02/2016 09:04 am ET Updated May 03, 2017

Surprised By Joy

The world is so full of bad new that it too often seems to define our lives. A children's hospital in the Middle East is bombed in error, doctors and small children killed; an American fascist is winning the GOP nomination, the world seems nothing but pileups of cars on broken down highways and of gifted people dying far too young. A Congress too stupid and selfish to provide funds to prevent the epidemic that is sure to come from the Zika virus bringing so much misery for newborn life. But then there is the stuff that doesn't make the news -- except among friends -- the small stuff that lights up our days -- the real joy that comes when a child, a grandchild, or a friend is happy in work or in school or in friendships and we can read it on their faces. A project of our own that is flowing smoothly, and takes us out of ourselves and the troubles that attend every life -- if only for awhile. We are surprised by joy because it has arrived so unexpectedly.

We can tap into others joy and share it for a moment -- a small child's discovery of art -- music -- dance -- or an adults rediscovery of love and loving. Sometimes it comes to me when I am out walking to the park and a very old man or woman stops and asks if they can pet Sam, our family dog. They are seeking a comfort, a connection with a gentle animal's innocence -- and I gladly offer it -- they tell me about the dogs they had in the past - and I can see that I am the first and perhaps the only person they will speak with this day. The pleasure they feel in their fingertips, touching Sam, gives me an unexpected lift. Since I am lousy at math I never count my blessings -- but I know that I have them -- despite all the noise of the news.

We are beginning our weekend. I am not at all religious but Saturday or Sunday had a certain dignity and repose when they were called the Sabbath -- a dignity that the word "weekend" lacks. Weekends demand that we enjoy ourselves by some special activity. Forget that if you can. Rest, read, listen to music, contact a friend, but most of all -- enjoy the marvelous in the ordinary.