It was a late Sunday afternoon approaching the edge of evening, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. The sun was out, and the temperature was a perfect 75 degrees. It was the kind of afternoon that reminds me why I live in Florida. It felt too beautiful to stay inside, so my family hopped on our bikes.
We took the back roads through one of my favorite streets lined with big oak trees and spectacular houses with a jaw-dropping water view overlooking a gorgeous lake. The water shimmered, and I knew that soon the sun would start to set, and the sky would be filled with color. I was delighted by what I saw.
But I was also struck by what I didn’t see.
No one was sitting on their balconies, porches, boat decks, or Adirondack chairs by the water. Out of at least 25-30 houses we passed, only one family was outside. Why on earth weren’t more people outside enjoying the kind of view and weather that most of us only dream about. Were they inside working? Were they watching TV? What could they possibly be doing on a Sunday that could be better than taking advantage of the perfect weather and the magic of the lake before it got too hot? And then I thought- when do I ever see people outside here? I shook my head in judgment and frustration- why have this big house on the lake if you aren’t even going to enjoy it?
I know I’m unfairly making up a story about these houses’ owners and whether they do or don’t appreciate their view. I also know that when I get into that super judgy ranty place about something, there is a big opportunity to look inward at myself. While I couldn’t comprehend how someone could take their water view for granted, I remembered my client who lives in an RV. I remembered when she was so excited our retreat house had a bathtub. I’m sure she couldn’t comprehend how I don’t often use my own beautiful tub. This got me thinking- Where else do I not fully enjoy what it is I have? How do I not take full advantage of the life I’ve created? What am I taking for granted that could give me joy?
Maybe we all do it in some way?
You excitedly buy the membership, firepit, dress, tent, wine chiller, and then don’t use it often, if at all? You have a front porch, nature trail, beautiful china, whirlpool tub, hilarious friend, salt scrub, nearby park, and then don’t fully enjoy it. You are blessed with a singing voice, creative writing spark, dancing body, guitar-strumming fingers, and all kinds of talents and gifts that you don’t give space to or regularly appreciate.
WHY would we not wring out every last drop of joy we can from the contents and opportunities of our lives?
Perhaps it’s the Good Girl (or Guy) conditioning that has us believe that we have to hold back joy to the very end. We push away the good stuff. We wait until we finish all the work before we give ourselves a break. To save the special items for something extra special. We give ourselves a tiny sliver of joy but only with what’s leftover or only after we’ve fully “earned it.” We don’t take in and receive all that’s available to us because we feel stressed, distracted, guilty, selfish, or unworthy, or unsure we truly deserve it.
Or perhaps it’s because we live in such fear of loss and scarcity that joy feels too vulnerable. Brené Brown says the most terrifying emotion we experience is joy. If we fully ENJOY what we have, we are reminded that we might lose it. We are afraid our hearts will get broken, so we hold back and deprive ourselves of the joy of now.
Yes, the good dishes might break. Go ahead and use them anyway.
Today, I invite you to take an inventory of what you haven’t fully enjoyed lately. I invite you to give yourself permission to use it up and take full advantage of its goodness.
Look around. There is so much to enjoy, from the simple to the profound. What if today you celebrated because your heart was pumping blood through your veins. Dance in your kitchen, watch the sunset from the porch, drink the good wine, take a bath, pull out the botanical garden membership, use the ice cream maker, walk the trail, write your poetry, and love on your life.