It's the first Monday after Christmas and the last Monday of the year. That calls for some sort of celebration!
Actually, I recognize that many people suffer from some level of post-holiday let-down and many of them are also NOT fans of Mondays. This got me to thinking (dangerous pastime!) on a theme I had written about many years ago on this blog.
Lack of Joy
Several years ago, I read the book Blithe Tomato by Mike Madison. It is a series of short writings that often chronicled his work as a grower and some of his interactions at market and with other growers. One of his observations was that if he could be criticized for anything, it would be his "lack of joy." That got me to thinking about the possibility that joy was difficult to attain - especially when you work and live the hard job that is growing for the direct to consumer, fresh-food market.
Tammy and I both enjoy animated films, so it should be no surprise that the film Inside Out got our attention. This film actually puts the emotional development of a young person center stage and illustrates it in the form of five characters (Disgust, Fear, Anger, Sadness and Joy). Initially, the emotions are pretty easy to separate and Joy exerts the most control over the key memories the child has. But, after a traumatic experience, things are no longer as cut and dried. Key memories are no longer tinged by one emotion. Moments of joy are now colored with sadness.
So, here we are - some years later. We still work on the farm - even if we work in a different way than we have in recent years. Our jobs take a good part of our attention and we still have to run out multiple times to deal with the laying hens was the weather grows cold. We still work hard to accomplish things and typically get a good deal done - but we don't celebrate because we're usually just on to the next thing that must be done. A walk around the farm is colored by all of the tasks that we recognize are still waiting for our attention. This year's iris flowers were beautiful, but we lamented the weeds surrounding them and the loss of several for a whole host of reasons. We make an effort to see people we care about in "zoom" meetings and start thinking about how we're going to be distanced in a few minutes before the call even ends.
So, I ask myself again the same question I asked years ago. Can I be criticized for a lack of joy? Or is this just joy tinged with sadness or a little bit of fear or maybe even a little anger? There's certainly a dose of disgust at myself for not fully appreciating the good things when they are right in front of me!
Eroded Peaks and Filled Valleys
Things on a farm such as ours simply do not go 'as planned' and require constant adjustments. As a result, we learn not to get too attached to mental pictures of how things should be. In fact, I've found that I have adjusted my expectations and worked to temper my feelings about failures and successes simply because failure is an integral part of the farm. And, if you take failure too personally, no amount of success seems to balance those shortcomings out. In turn, we don't celebrate successes because we're all too aware of how fleeting they can be. Too much celebration can lead to too much disappointment - so we try to avoid extreme peaks in hopes that we can avoid the deepest valleys.
This sounds like a pretty good coping mechanism in principle. Maintain emotional consistency so you can keep moving. It sounds efficient. It appears to be practical.
And I wonder sometimes if it is wrong.
Is is possible that this just leads to a slow, downhill journey when you dull the high moments to avoid steep drop when a disappointment follows? Is this why we sometimes start thinking about the letdown even before the moment we should be enjoying is over?
Talking Myself Into It
A couple of summers ago, I wrote the "poem" about Monday at the top of the chalkdoor list our workers saw as they came to the farm that morning. I didn't do this sort of thing on the board all the time, but once in a while I had the energy to do it. In this case, I was probably writing as much to convince me as much as my workers that we all could look upon our day with more positivity.
I was trying to talk myself (and others) into realizing that Monday is, in part, a state of mind. And, if that's the case, we have the ability to change how we see it. Hopefully, if we change how we see it, we can then change how the day goes - for the better.
So, I find myself trying to talk me into believing that joy is attainable and worthwhile - just as my Monday can actually be a pretty good day.
Mondays can be difficult. It can be hard to find joy in your life. I understand that and I accept that this might be true. But, I won't back down from a challenge. And neither should you.
Have a good Monday - and I hope something brings you a glimmer of joy today. Let yourself feel it.