The theme for this blog has been living in my head for quite sometime, there it probably would have stayed for quite sometime except that the events of this summer spurred me toward the written word. There will be more on these said events in posts to come. Don’t get your hopes up, I wasn’t in peril.
You weren’t? Then why, you very well may ask, have you named your blog Merry In Peril? It’s either false advertising or tempting fate or both.
You may be right, but here is my reasoning.
Merry In Peril reflects the idea that happiness is not a happenstance it is a discipline. Joy is not simply an emotion that you fall in and out of, but an absolute that you can cling to through whatever the universe and life conspires to throw at you.
Easier said than done, you say. Well there you most definitely are right, that’s why this is a blog and not a how to book. I am learning how not teaching.
It is an ongoing adventure, trying to build and guard that flame of joy within you while events from mild annoyances to deep heart rending tragedies flood toward you in a constant relay race. Not letting you go until they have stripped you bare and left that hearth within you cold and empty.
How then do you keep that discipline of joy in a world such as ours? I don’t really know but I’ve got a theory, well two, that will help along the way. The first is that joy and sorrow are not like Jekyll and Hyde, and the second is that heroes are made slowly. Let me explain.
When I say your happiness can be a constant, I do not mean that you will never feel pain or sorrow. We’re not trying to make psychopaths. What I mean is that no matter what happens to you, amid your grief, anger, or annoyance you still tend that flame of joy within you. Your joy is not Jekyll and your sorrow is not Hyde, they can both be in the same room at once. (and besides your joy wouldn’t be so stupidly hubris and hopefully your sorrow is not to homicidal.)
What difference does it make then, if you are still feeling all those other things? Well, this is where my second theory comes in.
Remember the old tale about meeting the devil at the crossroads and selling your soul? We all read it as children and wondered at the stupidity of some people, it always ended badly for those who made the deal. Unfortunately, it is not so simple or obvious as that. There is no crossroads at midnight and many would say there is no devil. There is just you and me and we do not sell our souls in one damned deal but lose it in increments. Day by day. little by little.
When you hold to that flame of joy in your core, slowly you will begin to balance the extremes, your emotions will still be with you but perhaps you will save your rage for those committing genocide and those who are letting them do it, and let the poor idiot who forgot his turning signal go with only mild irritation. And maybe one day even that irritation will not be able to assail our walls. It is the hardest to hold to your principles and honor in the small decisions that nobody knows or cares about but it is in these decisions that you are forging your own identity.
Heroes are made slowly. Those that risk everything for others have been building to that moment their whole lives. Those decisions that nobody sees or cares about are recorded away in our own subconscious and it is these decisions and patterns that our brain uses to inform that split-second decision. For those who have chosen in small ways through out their life to help others and not be overcome by emotions that could cloud their sight, for them there is no decision, no choice. They see what must be done and they do it.
Most of the rest of us, who have lived rather self-centered lives, would want to do what must be done. But we would be moving against the pattern, against the neurotransmitter paths that we’d spent our lives creating. This is, of course, possible but it takes conscious thought, and there is rarely time for that.
The people who constantly choose to hold to joy, to peace, to bravery, to all the bright words we learned as children, they are the ones who, when confronted with peril, do not crack beneath it.