Stand near an elementary school’s doors just as class gets out. Don’t stand too close–you’re likely to get trampled! Kids are dashing to the swing set, the waiting school bus, the soccer field, their moms’ cars, or no where in particular. Coats are getting tugged. Backpacks are flung. Shouts. Squeals. Constant chatter. Just the thought of all that chaos makes me feel a little exhausted. You too?
The first time I moved to Germany, my fears involved things like finding friends, knowing where to get a gallon of milk (there’s no such thing), and learning vocabulary for things like contact lens solution at the drug store. I clung to Martin, my German husband, using him as my crutch. I was afraid of answering the intercom or the telephone in our apartment. (You never realize how much body language matters until you only have spoken words to communicate.) Sometimes if Martin was gone, I wouldn’t even answer. I’d crouch down and get very quiet, nervous that someone would catch me as a fraud, ignoring phone calls and intercom buzzes.
Joy doesn’t come from the number of people you’re friends with on Facebook or who attended your wedding. We can spend our entire lives creating metrics and monitoring who and how many.
The greatest joy in life has to begin somewhere else.
I am finding that it all starts with story. Story connects us and empowers us. It helps us learn about ourselves, and when we do that, we can better understand each other. Strangers become friends. Enemies become allies. Little odds and ends become keepsakes. Dishes of food become family tradition. Ordinary days and inanimate objects find a new life … a transformation that I can only define as joy.