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Borrowing Joy

I began meditating in 2020. That is to say, I began meditating daily. I had been doing those Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21-day meditations or, rather, starting them (but usually not finishing) for several years. But I had never gotten into a meditation habit, and certainly not without music and someone leading it. Too impatient. Too many things I wanted to be doing. Too many thoughts and ideas. I cannot say what changed in me but somehow I now meditate for 25 minutes each morning. I put this in my list of positive things that came from Covid. Did it? I don’t know. But then a) I have no real schedule or place to be in the morning and b) it finally seemed like a pleasant and good thing to do when pleasant and good things to do were scarcer than usual.

One of the teachers I’ve listened to, Tuere Sala, on Ten Percent Happier, gave a short talk and led a meditation on “borrowing joy.” The idea is that if you are not feeling particularly joyful and you just can’t get there on your own, you think of someone, person or animal, that exhibits joy frequently. And then you “borrow” joy from this role model. You imagine yourself as that joyful being, you picture what joy looks like, embodied by that particular being, and you put yourself into that picture.

This was a no-brainer. Miles. My dog Miles is the most joyful being I know. Just this morning in the woods he went racing up to a total stranger, his body curving in excitement and his stumpy tail going a million miles a minute. She was, of course, charmed. And then later he did the same to another woman who marveled at what a wonderful, friendly, happy dog he is. “Yes, he is,” I said. And then, to be polite, added, “Thank you.” But I don’t know why. His joyful self is no reflection on me. He just is. He is exuberance and enthusiasm embodied. Merriment, gladness and delight. My beautiful Miles.

He had been given away by a breeder (he is rather large for a miniature poodle) to a woman who had adopted several children and who ultimately decided she could not keep him. The breeder had said that he had a gentle soul. Oh yes. The most gentle soul ever. He would rather do anything than be an alpha dog. He leans to go one way and I say, “Let’s go this way.” And his face lights up as if this is the best idea ever, as if to say, “Oh yes! That way is so much better! I love that way!”

He is the best role model a person could want for joie de vivre. The perfect being from whom to borrow joy. My Miles. You are welcome to borrow his joy, too, if you need some.

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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