Friday, November 20, 2009

Pictures of Joy

When I got laid off, I had a long list of things I wanted to do every day. One of those things was to take a picture each day of something that made me smile.

During the summer, confident that I'd find that new job without too much delay. I enjoyed the long lazy days with my sons at home -- we were three unemployed bums taking advantage of picnics and sunshine. My daughter had a beautiful baby boy -- my first grandchild. I spent lots of time with family and friends. I took lots of pictures.

But then the Fall came. My older son went off to medical school and my younger one became involved in about a million activities. We agreed that we were "busier and poorer" than we'd ever been. Life got cold, dark, and overwhelming. The job search became a roller coaster - One day up, the next day down. The perfect jobs -- ones that I was sure I would get -- fell through. I spent all day in front of the computer, in an attempt to learn everything and anything that might get me closer to that job. I stopped going out, afraid to spend even two dollars on coffee, not wanting to impose any more on my generous friends. I stopped taking my daily picture.

Last week, I met with a friend and we discussed our weekly goals. I told her that my life had been so focused on the job search that I'd neglected spending time with my family and friends. She encouraged me to make an effort to take those "pictures of joy" again. And so I did. I took a picture of the surprise visit from my friend when he came to help me shovel after a snowstorm (I like to call this "a generous act of shovelry".) I took pictures when I went out to lunch and coffee again with friends. When I chauffeured my son to one of his many school events, we told jokes in the car. And even though I couldn't whip out the camera at that moment, when I got home, I wrote down the jokes in my journal, remembering that beautiful carefree attitude that I so admire in my son.

Yesterday I learned that my father has stage 3 colon cancer. Suddenly jobs and money no longer felt so important. When there is a problem, I want to find some way to control fix at least do something. My father is in a hospital bed in California and there is absolutely nothing I can do but wait and hope and pray that he'll get better. This did not feel like a day to take a picture of joy. I couldn't imagine anything that would make me smile.

But I had an appointment to meet with a friend to help her set up her blog. When I told her the news, she gave me a hug, and listened. She pulled out some home-made pasta sauce made with tomatoes from her garden, put on some soothing music, poured me a glass of red wine, and made me an Italian lunch -- just like my father would do. And, realizing it was more important than ever, I took my picture of joy.

Life is short. Don't take it for granted. Take those pictures of joy.

I love you, Dad.

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