Embracing Joy Despite Uncertainty

At some time or another, I believe we’ve all been forced to spend time alone thanks to our multiple sclerosis. MS is a powerful isolator. Whether it is opting out of joining a social gathering for fear of being around the germs of others, or if the fatigue and depression hit so hard it’s impossible to move off the couch, people with MS know about isolation, whether it is self-imposed or thrust on us by this disease.

Uncertain about the future

Life with multiple sclerosis also has its moments where the person is forced to stop and wonder about their future. We’ve all been there. The uncertainty of what will happen next to our central nervous system and immune system can be maddening, depressing and much more. People with MS don’t hold an exclusive grip on uncertainty, though. Look at any chronic condition or disease and you can find people living with their own big questions about the future and the pain of not having answers.

Coping skills to deal with isolation

The other thing I strongly believe about people with MS is we have developed amazing coping skills, especially when it comes to understanding and accepting the need for isolation and the unique way we’ve shaped our thinking to cope. For me, that mechanism almost always involves things that bring me joy. Others have half-jokingly called me a Pollyanna, always wanting to find the better side of a situation, and that is likely true. I would much rather find the silver lining in any situation than dwell on the bad.

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. —Joseph Campbell

The joys of springtime

Nothing makes my heart lighter than stepping outside and hearing the warble of springtime in the air. The birds around here are stepping up their game of calling back and forth to each other, now that the weather is shifting from the darkness of winter. When I walked to our mailbox yesterday, I heard their familiar songs and stopped to soak in their expressions of joy.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. – Chinese Proverb

A trip down memory lane

A project I have sworn to undertake for years but I am finally going to do now that I’m stuck around my house is to sort through the boxes of photos I’ve accumulated over the years. Taking a trip down memory lane as I sort out the photos of family and friends brings joy to me in innumerable ways and is a wonderful solo activity. This will also be the long-contemplated activity of tossing away photos of sunsets and landscape vistas that no longer mean anything significant. I’ll confess I have a thing for taking pictures of clouds (especially from airplanes), and I’ll likely be hesitant to toss too many of those.

This is what I like about photographs. They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect. ― Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf

Working harder at finding joy

With this current necessary isolation due to the COVID-19 virus, I may have to work harder at finding joy, but it’s still there. Curling up with a good book, talking to longtime friends by phone, or making that new recipe I’ve been considering for some time are all possibilities.

Let your joy be in your journey—not in some distant goal. —Tim Cook

Creating our own joy

Our challenge is to find joy or even create our own joy to fill the times ahead. I hope you find your own special retreats that bring you joy in these otherwise gloomy times.

Wishing you well,

Laura

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