I broke a fourth tooth in less than a year, all while eating a bagged lunch the other day. A lunch that my husband had prepared for me, nonetheless. I was eating alphabet pretzels when the tooth crumbled, in case you are wondering- creating a taste sensation of unparalleled proportions as it mixed in with all the other crunchy bits and pieces in the process of being swallowed down gulp at a time. I had originally purchased the bagged snack/teaching tool for my students so as to make learning fun. FUN, I say. Just like I was having now that my appetite had suddenly vanished. Glad my little friends never had the joy of eating these tasty little morsels, as they are like crunching on driveway gravel. Particularly when mixed in with enamel.
I have been a bit of a cranky Mama bear lately. And for good reason. Turns out I have been grinding my teeth into gunpowder while trying to catch a few zzz’s in the process. The dentist today remarked on the extreme power in my jaws which would have been flattering if he hadn’t had my mouth propped open with a two-by-four made out of a cotton ball and a piercing bright light shining on the gaping hole in there, further magnifying my chipped teeth and swollen gum line.
I look like a light-weight boxing competitor who has seen better days. And indeed I have. Seen better days, that is.
Life is all about perspective, right? So with that in mind, I set out this evening to find a little piece of joy in nature so as to cast some illumination on an otherwise expensive ($2,200 worth of upcoming dental work), depressing (there goes the camper we were going to buy) and discouraging (I am wondering if false teeth are an option for a 38 year old mother of four) day.
I took a walk sans children, husband or friends. I set out with a view in mind, that being the picturesque Mill River winding its way gracefully along the shores of red clay in Western Prince Edward Island. It was for me, more of a pity party at first. Poor me, why me, why now…yada yada. Then, I began noticing a few things. A fuzzy caterpillar, and then another, crawling along the side of the road. The elegant lupins, just beginning to emerge in hues of pink, fuschia and indigo. A broken clothespin. How did that arrive in my path? The Queen’s Anne Lace, stooping to touch soft grass growing beneath.
And after a few more moments, I drew my gaze up and far down the path I was travelling, and the view of the water quite took my breath away.
The deep blue of the river, gently lapping the red sandstone. The road leading fishers to a point of entrance. A boat floating tranquilly in shallow water. The jagged rock underfoot. Wooden staircases from cottage lots down to the shore. A black dog, standing still and free in the river. The sound of a lawnmower in the distance cutting blades of green summer lawns. The smell of the water- pungent salt mixed with sweet algae. The beauty of the evening, soon fading to twilight. This glorious evening of an almost-summer day.
And in the beauty of these moments, these brief interludes of time, in between reality past and reality future, I realized that I could be happy. Right now. I did not have to make a promise for fifteen minutes away, nor did I need to make compensations for the misery of hours ago while under the drill of my watchful dentist. I could just commit to right now. This was pure, unadulterated happiness. To be alone in nature in blessed quietness. Does it get any better than this?
When we allow ourselves brief moments in which to feel joy, we find happiness is not so elusive. And what makes us happy will in turn bring us joy in wave after wave of memory, as we return to that place of pleasure again and again in our minds. Like those waves on a shore formed of red clay that I experienced tonight. Our memory, that collective of sounds, sights, triggers and emotions that help to form for us reminiscences of those freeze-frame windows in time that we hope never to forget. It is a gift.
We touch the face of joy, those of us who can live out our days as small moments rather than large time periods. I can say I have had a bad day, but really I had a few bad moments. Those moments will surely lead to more unpleasant moments in the days to come, as I seek to remedy these chipped and broken teeth. But, there were moments in this day that were pure pleasure. The moments right before bed when I cuddled with each of my children, one by one. When I snuggled the youngest, read with the next in line- my middle child, when I kissed the warm forehead of my oldest daughter, and shared a laugh with my very oldest, my son. Those moments are just as much a part of my day as were those horrific ones at the dentist’s office. And so, I choose. JOY.
Again, and again and again. I choose joy. In the small moments.
Because that is not too much ask. And I can commit to something small like a moment.