Growing up, my dad and I loved to go fishing together. Occasionally, we would even con one of my sisters to join us. One fateful day, my oldest sister agreed to accompany us on a trip to Cedar Key, Florida. We strapped our 16-foot canoe to the top of our Lincoln Continental and headed out to our selected fishing spot. We fished all day, well into late afternoon. To be honest, I really don’t remember what we caught… if anything. What I do remember is that we lost track of time — and consequently, the tide. It went out before we came in; we were then effectively stuck.
Now, there are too many details to share in this very short blog, but (basically) we had to get out and shimmy our boat for over a mile through stinky mud and oyster beds. That experience was a special realm of awfulness, one we certainly didn’t plan for. A half hour into our ride home — mud soaked, cut up, and smelling to high Heaven — the silence was broken by our uncontrollable laughter. Once we realized that we were all safe, all together — we were able to find some joy among the situation.
These last several months, many of us have been crawling through some muddy parts in our own lives. That stress can take many forms. For those who are well, it might mean having no personal space in your own home, the silence from a lack of visitors during the quarantine, or the inability to escape through travel or a meal in a restaurant. In the worst cases, there are many who have experienced the tragic loss of a family member, friend, or co-worker. The stresses encountered at work (especially for those on the front lines or risking their lives for others) as well as concerns for our financial health and investment portfolios are then stacked right on top of that.
How can we find joy when we are faced with these difficult times?
To be clear, the issues that are affecting our lives now amid the coronavirus outbreak are infinitely heavier, emotionally draining, and longer lasting than simply pushing a boat through some mud. These are the times in which our character is truly tested. But finding joy among these circumstances when we can will help us come out of the crisis as whole people. I feel like social media (of all places) has helped with this. It has allowed us to come together, see that we are all in similar circumstances, and find moments of joy.
Hopefully, though, we can come away from the crisis with more than just a collection of memes and TikTok videos. Perhaps we have found unique opportunities that the virus and the lockdown orders following it have unintentionally brought to us. Families are eating dinner together. Parents are spending less time on their phones and more in conversation. Many are feeling the need to reach out and hear voices rather than texting. We’re learning to appreciate the joy that others bring us, and to be truly grateful for those who are well and those devoted to the wellness of others.
These are things we can continue well past quarantine — and that we should build into our day-to-day lives moving forward. So — when the world can (safely) crank back up and start going full speed — we can continue to find joy through times both of crisis and of prosperity.