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For the past 24 hours I have been planning and creating travel gifts for my grandkids as they embark on a camping trip tomorrow. A bag for each of them with things to do in the car, treats like edible necklaces and nuts bars, bingo and other games, waterproof playing cards, small art projects—the list goes on. I’ve had fun creating and imagining their giggling as they discover these surprises. I feel joy in the fun.

I could choose to live in fear as the heat could be a factor in how our day goes. I could worry about the drive my daughter and her family will make across the highways to their vacation. I could fear for their exposure to COVID.

I could live in anger at the world and all the news I choose not to read. I could look out my window and see the lack and the indifference all around me.

I could stay in bed and idle my time away from life and relive my past, ruminating my losses and my hurts.

My wife says “Let’s live in joy today.” Such an easy statement. What do I choose?

Choose the gift of happiness Instead of rocking in sadness Choose the gift of health Instead of amassing mere wealth Choose the gift of life, together Instead of living a life, asunder Choose advice of the elders and wise Instead of living in a fool’s paradise Choose to avoid life’s mistakes Instead of living a life of regrets You can’t dwell in the futile past What has happened, never can adjust It is foolish to live in dead-yesterdays Whilst today is here for loving embrace Choose tomorrow to put wrongs, right Your life-script, you can choose to rewrite Life is too short to be little Life is a waste if it’s not subtle Life is what you make of it Life offers no chance for repeat Indeed, your life is in your hands Mark it, for what you stand.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • A friend of mine had a saying “Don’t postpone joy.” We can laugh and be in joy even if something is serious.

  • That was a great poem. During the meditation, I thought about contrasts. On one side, there is the horror of what's going on; on the other, I’m working in my garden and walking. Choices are important.

  • I have experienced so many hard things in my life. I got the image that I am like a comet heading toward earth, and all the hard, crusty responses to my life are burning up. What am I learning? It’s making me whole.

  • The visible comet is called NEOWISE. I translate that into “I am coming to wise.” The wisdom comes from adversity. Today is my daughter’s birthday and it’s the first time I am able to feel happy about that. She’s been a difficulty in my life.

  • Congrats on the birthday. In the Netherlands, they celebrate the mother for all the work she did that day of her child’s birth.

  • My client is slipping away and I am helping her. She calls her fear agitation. During the meditation, I felt a shift, that now I am helping her in hospice. Lot of love and support. It’s a change in perspective.

  • I was struck about the idea of choosing joy and happiness. This year I have been shut down. Where I focus matters. During the meditation, I was trying to be present, but then I went back to the story. It’s like a pendulum. I choose to still it to be here and now. Am I willing to choose happiness and joy? I choose to work through it. Am I in the past? In the future? Can I be in the present? This concept of a pendulum is a strong image.

  • I learned that my freedom of survival is in the present. I learned to touch my nose to remind me to stay in the present.

  • I like this idea of choosing joy. As a child, I heard about older people being set in their ways. Are we cement? We can change the script, we can delete things. I heard a Ted talk about this and he said ask yourself two questions. Is what I'm thinking useful? How is it behaving?

  • I have trouble when pulled between things. Do I settle on one thing or do them all? Doesn't matter what I do. I can sit still, I can take things off the list. I can get to a centered place. I can support self in the moment. Acceptance is liberating.

  • We had a debate regarding this family trip for a family get together. I was concerned, but then I realized this place has been through many trials since 1902. Motivated by love and respect.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product.” That helped me understand how happiness works in my life. I can do what I need to take care of myself, focus on joy, and the happiness will follow.

  • Thank you all for your courage to share.

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