So ever since I posted last week’s post people have been writing or asking, essentially, Are you ok? Where’d the joy go? Hey – this blog is called “The Joy Project”, not “The Joyful Charley”. So gimme a break.
But then these comments did get me thinking…I have been a bit dark around the aura lately, and I think I know why: I’m out of balance.
Ahh yes, the ole yin-yang. I keep coming back to needing to balance myself by re-aligning with my natural rhythm. And for me this means s-l-o-w-i-n-g d-o-w-n. These days, it feels like a radical act. Where I live here in NYC, you’re rewarded for exhibiting symptoms that are sure signs of workaholism, or just plain hysteria. Anywhere else on the planet, they’d come after you with a butterfly net. Here they promote you.
And what makes this problem more pronounced for me is that the world is going faster just as I’m growing slower. My body and my mind, though both healthy, keep giving me signals I try to ignore. Like the other day: I was running (much the way I did when I was 30, which I still pretend to be) to catch the Q train to Brooklyn from my office in Chelsea. So I hustle a block down 7th Ave, and, approaching 14th, I turn to peer all the way west down 14th to look and see no bus. Panting, I make a quick decision to high tail it to 6th Avenue for the L train to take me one stop to the Q. Just as I start walking, I see the bus leaving the bus stop right across the street from me. I had missed his huge double-sized vehicle that was right there, directly across the street. Why? Because I was too stressed and in a rush to see it. (Never mind taking a cab. One way I push myself is by scrimping and denying myself such “luxuries”.)
In other words, I would have gotten to the train faster had I slowed down.
Dylan had the line, “gargling in the rat race choir.” Slowing down – let me say it again – is radical. It’s an act of gentle defiance.
So I need, once again, to balance all my doing with some being. Balance work with leisure.
A reader asked recently, “Do you think one can feel joy anywhere, like on the subway, for instance?” Well, I did, and on that same day on the Q. I had my earphones and my iPod on and was busy reading something in preparation for my meeting in Brooklyn. But there seemed to be some disturbance on the far end of the car: Voices…in… harmony?? I turned my iPod off to catch a group of male angels, all in there 50s and 60s, singing…
“When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb right up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space…”
You know the rest.
They were moving through the car like a floating island of aural splendor, beaming as if it was gospel music they were singing and praising the Lord, which, in their way, was of course what they were doing.
And it didn’t escape me — after what I’d just been through on the street — that they were singing a song about being – as in,
“On the roof’s the only place I know
Where you just have to be to make it so”
I looked at the faces around me, and they got it. Even the younger ones, who may have never heard the song before, could smell that fresh and sweet air.
The subway kept going but time had stopped, for a joyful moment.
1) Try this on for a day and see how it fits:
The slower I go, the further I get.
2) Grok this! The Drifters (with pigeons?!)