I want to say thank you to those of you who left encouraging comments after my last post. I love you all. And I've taken what you wrote to heart.
I've been thinking more about that pull to entertain, to bring joy. I don't think entertainment is inherently valuable. It's fun. It passes the time. But let's face it, it's not feeding the world or healing the sick.
What is valuable is how entertainment can elevate us. Can pull us up out of our daily grind. The worries and stresses and messes. Even the tragedies. And for a minute or an hour or a day, life is more than these. We can escape harsh reality and live in pure feeling. In our perceptions and in everything those perceptions evoke in us.
The joy that entertainment can bring reminds us that we are more than survivors. That there's more to life than meeting basic needs or producing or consuming. We're more than workers or thinkers or decision makers or givers or takers.
Joy connects us to the essence of what it means to be human. And I believe there's value in that.
I also believe that being able to recognize joy is contingent upon having known suffering. And this is the crux of why joy is so important to me. I have known suffering. So joy is sweeter.
From the loss of my younger brother to suicide, I learned that life is precious. (And people are fragile.)
From my work in nursing homes, I learned that people of all ages need connection. (And the lonely give love freely.)
From my struggle with infertility, I learned to appreciate the gift of motherhood all the more.
From my struggle with mental illness, I learned that crazy can be funny. (But only after the fact!)
From my struggles with physical illness, I learned that there are people suffering everywhere. (And most of us have no idea.)
From my hospitalizations, I learned that a normal, boring day at home is something to be cherished.
From the loss of my grandparents, I learned that sometimes all we can do is help those we love have a good end.
Because suffering is universal, so is the need for joy.