Flashes of Joy

During an NPR interview, New York Times India correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman talked of the challenges of living in New Delhi with his wife and children in times of a rampaging pandemic. He explained that his family has adopted the “mantra” of “don’t worry until it’s time,” to help them manage their fear. I resonated with this phrase, having long ago read Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.  I try to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to worries. Chris, hailing from a long line of worriers, sometimes worries at my apparent lack of concern!  While not facing the mortal peril of Gettleman and his loved ones, I think the “time to worry” has come for me and Chris.  Ironically, having survived the Coronavirus threat, three of our family members now face health issues that cannot be dismissed as “Small Stuff.”  We do what we can, sometimes in person, and sometimes at a distance, but, unsurprisingly, we are living at a higher altitude of stress.

A few weeks ago before the “time for worrying” was truly registering, we headed back to Massachusetts for a graduation. Covid really sparked creativity into how we celebrate such events when large-scale public gatherings are inadvisable. This was my first experience of a “hybrid” graduation, where Chris’ daughter received her MEd in person, while we “Zoomed” in.  Famed author, Deepak Chopra recorded the commencement address. If you’ve been to several graduations, you’ll know it’s often hard to recall the words of wisdom such speakers aim to impart. There seemed to be little hope I would recall Chopra’s advice. Many phrases arrested me on first hearing his short and deceptively simple speech, yet one little comment did stay  with me – (I looked it up to be sure).

“Joy should be the measure of success.”

It catapulted my mind down paths we won’t stray here.  After much mental meandering, it occurred that to achieve a measure of success in defending against excessive worry, I could look for flashes of joy.  Here are a few.

After the wearisome journey (with, as you may recall, our protesting cats), we are once again in our Colorado home, (to the obvious satisfaction of said cats).  From our house we daily witness a flash of joy; seeing both snow-capped mountains and trees unfurling feathery leaflets that tempt the deer who inhabit this town and surely presume that all vegetation is for their delectation. (They certainly enjoyed our newly purchased “deer resistant” marigolds!)

While visiting a store we don’t frequent often, we were stopped by a woman completely unknown to us.  

“What a lucky man you are,” she said to Chris, “to be with such a nice woman!”

Lest you think I overblow my own trumpet, –  we returned to the store a few days later.  The same woman approached us.

“Well, what do you know –  it’s you two again!” she said, “What an amazing couple you are – so lucky to have one another.”

Who couldn’t feel an oversized flash of joy at such unsolicited praise?

Regular readers will remember Chris loves to sing. You may have picked out his tenor tones in the excerpts from virtual choirs I have included with earlier posts.  I have often told Chris that I bring him the gift of being his best audience, but lack the gift of musical performance even more than I lack the technical skills required to edit a virtual choir. So the virtual performances astonish and delight me. Having said that, I do appreciate that online singing is not even close to the  pleasure of blending your voice in communal song. We went to our local church, the first “In-person” worship in a very long time. The level of vaccination in this area is so high that restrictions have gradually been lifted. And this Sunday, the organist struck a chord and invited everyone to sing. Was it my imagination, or did we sing with much more gusto than before –  and with Chris and the choir director leading the way?.  Flashes of joy reverberated from Chris like sunbeams that sparkle on our favorite fishing lake.  

The same rather gloomy day, (in terms of weather), was illuminated by another flash of joy, as our little cat confronted a pair of Colorado magpies!  Take a look!

End Notes


How I Learned to Understand the World
Hans Rosling


Time Traveler
Nenna Frelon


Sketches in Sepia
Composer Florence Price
Performer Samantha Ege



Ode to the Only Black Kid in the Class
Clint Smith

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