Be Here Now. These are my Guiding Words for 2020. I chose them – or they chose me – in a flash of remembrance of the book by Ram Dass by that name. Guiding Words show themselves throughout the year, what they are about, why they became our words, how they help us grow and evolve. Usually what we think they are about is a much more limited idea than what unfolds. While being present is always important, it’s key right now. By being present, being in acceptance of the present – since we can’t be anywhere else anyway – we find what joy there is to be had in that moment.

In discussions over the last couple of months during this Great Pause /Life Interrupted/Stay at Home Shut Down, a number of people have said, I just can’t access any joy. This is so hard. It’s nice being quiet – for a time. It’s nice being with family – for a time. I still have to work – and now teach my kids. Or, I don’t have work and I’m terrified about finances. I’m overwhelmed. I’m frightened. I’m anxious. I’m worried. Is there really any joy to be had right now?

I don’t think feeling joy is what we’ve cracked it up to be. Sometimes it’s that wonderful, elated, big, expansive, ecstatic feeling. More often, I think of joy as more neutral. It’s more about acceptance, awareness, willingness, embracing what is. The ability to be in whatever is happening, notice how we feel about it, and sit in it with some modicum of grace. To say, so this is what’s happening now! Not that we like it, it may suck, we may wish it wasn’t happening . . . and we still say Yes. We say, okay, this is what life is presenting to me, and now what? We can say:  I trust life just keeps moving through me – because it does, it’s energy – and I will be carried along on the flow and current, somehow, some way. It won’t stay like this. It will change. I am already OK, even if I don’t feel it, or know how. I am all taken care of – even in the midst of feeling fear, uncertainty, worry.

That little bit of peace as we let go, surrender, be right here right now, in this little slice of the present moment . . . I think that’s the sliver of joy we can touch. We can’t grasp it, it may be fleeting . . . but it will return. We take that breath, we let go again, our heart opens, and there it is. Flow, Balance, Peace, Love, Joy.