I Choose Joy

I’m not someone who is big into politics. I understand that they matter and I am thankful for the people who are passionate and knowledgeable about keeping us safe and free. My strategy though, has always been: stay informed and stay out of it. Make a decision and respect others to do the same. But as a pretty typical American twenty something, I have started to understand it a bit more. As I have gotten older I have started to have so much more appreciation for how nuanced it all is. How you can be for something, but frustrated by it at the same time and how you can feel like being for someone is all about being against someone else. It’s mind bending to keep it all straight to me.

This past year especially has been so tough on all of us. Politics feel so much bigger to me than they ever have before. So much scarier, aggressive and confusing. From a national level yes, but on a personal level too. Learning not to judge someone for their political stance is hard, to choose to love people even if you feel like their political leanings are a little crazy. As I sit here on the eve of the election, it’s hard to believe it will all be over in such a conceivable matter of time. Of course the realist in me recognizes that it’s likely neither side is going to give up that easily.

The question I keep asking though is, what are we left with when it is all over? Whether that’s tomorrow, two weeks from now, months, years? All the negativity, the hatred, the broken friendships and families left lying in the wake. I hope not. I hope it is so much more of a deeper understanding of who we are and how we got here. The opposite is just far too sad for me to accept. So for myself, I choose joy. I am going to choose today, that no matter what the outcome, I know there is so much more to celebrate and to live for. That no matter who wins this contest, dark chocolate and red wine will still taste just as sweet and even sweeter when shared with people I love around me. I still have friendships worth investing in and a family that loves me and that forgiveness and humility are still always an option.

I think I have spent some time this past year, holed up in my personal sphere, just waiting for this all to blow over. Choosing not to engage with people out of fear and staying away from places because I just didn’t feel like dealing with it all. Today though, I say it is enough, it’s not worth wasting my time worrying about the bickering and the animosity.

One of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, says it best: “To choose to celebrate right now in the world we live in may seem irresponsible. It might seem frivolous like cotton candy and charm bracelets. But I believe it is a serious undertaking, and one that has the potential to return us to our best selves...The world is alive, blinking and clicking, winking at us slyly, inviting us to get up and dance to the music it has been playing since the beginning of time, if you bend all the way down and put your ear to the ground to listen for it.” And in my mind, it’s playing some 90s pop and I'm jumping around like a fool.

PS. If you have never read the book Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Seriously do yourself a favor and go buy like 10 copies. Read one and give them to all your friends.