(16 October 2014) – About three years ago, I had a very vivid dream. So vivid— that to this day it seems more like a memory than fantasy.
I walked up to an apartment building that I knew was mine. When I laid my eyes upon it from the outside, the word ‘nondescript’ jumped to mind. The horizontal paneling was a greyish taupe color. The window trim was white. There was nothing distinguishing it from other buildings surrounding it. It was very… typical.
When I opened the door to my apartment, the feel of the dream immediately changed. Yes, most of the rooms were typical rooms you would see in an apartment. The living room was right inside the front door. It was large, and had a cozy seating area for talking. The kitchen was immediately to my right and completely open to the living room. There was a hallway that led to bedrooms (and presumably, a bathroom). Something that might not seem so “typical” was the fact that the far end of the living room had a soaring high loft with vaulted ceilings (not seen in a lot of apartments, yes— but not impossible, because in real-life I lived in a similar place many years ago). Overall, the layout of the apartment was not particularly unusual.
However, the feel of the place was instantly magical. The living room resembled something you might see on a movie set— it looked like an outdoor living space in some exotic country (Morocco pops to mind)— and it was a nighttime setting. Dozens of candles set the mood— casting a warm glow throughout the entire room. Reflections of the candlelight shimmered off of billowing gentle silks hanging from the loft above. The wispy fabrics extended across the room and flowed onto posts in the corners. Vibrant colors (I once read somewhere that most dreams are in black and white— this was not one of them) filled the living room in the form of exotic rugs and luxurious fabrics covering pillows and furniture. I could see through the sheer fabric above me, and noticed the entire ceiling was painted the color of midnight blue… and there were tiny sparkling lights embedded in it, mimicking what one would see on a clear night in the desert.
The scene was truly spectacular. So much so, that I felt I needed to go back outside and see if I was in the right building. I walked outside, looked at that greyish exterior, and shook my head a bit before walking back into what felt like paradise.
I woke up at this point. But the words, “Make the Mundane Magical” lingered in my head. I wrote them down.
This was three years ago. At the time, life was not going all that great. I’m one of those people who doesn’t really see the point in bitching about things (other than the occasional vent), so I’m not going to give much detail. I will only say that losing one’s job at the beginning of a recession (in this case, 2009) is not ideal. It’s been a very long and difficult road (I have to smile and shake my head as I type those words because it so inadequately sums up what’s happened!)… and I am still very much in recovery mode.
It’s better now than it was three years ago, for a number of reasons I will most likely share at some point. But there’s one reason that reigns above the others. And this blog focuses on that point.
Put simply: after years of allowing so many “bad” things in life to affect me so deeply, I’ve managed to switch it up so those things are now in the background. And that’s ONLY happened because I actively turned up the volume on things that bring me joy.
And once again, I had to laugh as I wrote the words above, because it took me three seconds to type what has been— hands down—- the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I’ve always been a relatively positive person, but these past several years have tested my limits. I can say honestly that if I’d read those words above during some of my more “down” moments, I would have chalked it up to “yet more positive thinking BS” and moved on.
It’s not easy. It didn’t happen overnight. And it’s still a constant struggle (it’s not something that hit me over the head and then I suddenly mastered it). How in the world can you turn up the volume on joy in the face of so many bad things going on in your life and in the world around you?
I will simply say that for me, it became a matter of survival. I’ve come to the conclusion that— for me, at least— the purpose of life is to figure out a way to experience joy in the midst of all of the crap that is happening in the world.
A few points before I continue:
When I talk about putting things “in the background” I’m not talking about ignoring the bad. I’m talking about giving it less space in my life and not allowing it to consume me.
And when I talk about “the purpose of life”— I’m speaking strictly from my perspective. I don’t believe that everyone has the same purpose, so if you don’t agree— I completely get it. Everyone has a different path. Just because I choose one path doesn’t make anyone else’s path less correct, IMHO.
So, getting back to experiencing joy. I found that three years ago, moments of joy were few and far between… which is where Making the Mundane Magical came in. I discovered it wasn’t enough to simply allow joyful things to happen and experience them as they happened. Since I was in a situation that really sucked, I had to actively search for it. And when I couldn’t find it, I had to find ways to create it. For me, experiencing joy had to go from being passive, to being very active. That’s what ultimately allowed me to push the negative things into the background. Because once I created more joy and allowed more space for joy, the negative stuff didn’t have as much room to hang around in my head.
I realize what I’m writing here might not make sense. In fact, if I’d stumbled across these words three years ago, I would have been like, “what is she talking about? Creating space? Making things magical? W.T.H.” All I can say is— it works for me, and I’ll try to give some examples as I go. Given that so many people I know right now seem to be having trouble hanging onto hope, I thought I should share. As with everything I have shared in the past and will share in the future, please feel free to take it or leave it.
I’m notoriously bad at maintaining blogs— especially since much of my life is consumed with trying to find a job— but I promise to try to be better. In the meantime, I’m moving some posts from earlier blogs to this blog because they follow the “turning the volume up on joy” theme.