Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Only Joy

Life’s tests are pesky, without question. Sometimes they come upon us like a jealous whisper and other times like a bellowing, evil cheerleader. Wants are common culprits for introducing us to life’s little lessons. Wanting things is something that ties every human being together. To want is to be alive, I think. Certainly the varieties in wants characterize the lives we are either fortunate to live or grateful to survive. For example, I want an iPhone. In that, it’s easy to surmise that I am lucky enough to have a roof over my head, Swiss chard and yellow and orange bell peppers ready to be cooked for dinner, and affordably stylish clothes at my disposal. For others, that roof is a hefty want as fall turns to winter. Wanting food and knowing hunger define levels of existence perhaps the most powerfully. And clothing, stylish or not, to keep the cold out is a potent want.

But for today, we’re discussing other kinds of wants, things like time (who doesn’t want more of that), success (in all its incarnations), and I’m going to go ahead and throw this into the mix: love. Compared to time, success, and love, that iPhone can’t really compare (and not because it doesn’t try by being cute and fun and embodying the American spirit of capitalism and wonder). The truth is no object could possibly compete against our biggest wants, the ones that revolutionize our lives, bring purpose and hope, and raise our journey to a new more transcendent level.

And where is all of this leading? Life Lesson 317.4a and Life Test 248-a, both entitled What happens when our friends get/have the things we want?

Not too long ago, I blogged about my high school reunion and the memories that brought up, memories I wouldn’t choose to wander through on a regular basis because there is no past I want to disappear into. I am all about the now, but, for the sake of today’s blog, I’m going to delve into what I will call the D&D Affair (having nothing to do with Dungeons and Dragons, in case some newbies wandered onto the blog... run now, while you have the chance). In high school, there was this boy, who we will refer to as D. He was shiny, charming, talented, friendly, wise, and wonderful. And I wanted him. So badly. So muchly (yeah, I made another word). I just had to have him. And a dance was coming up. Would he? Could he? Be mine?

Not so much. Because a girl, who will be referred to also as D, came to me and told me that He-D had asked her to the highly anticipated dance. She-D was beautiful, sweet, lovely, talented, and momentously kind even as a high school popular girl. She came to me to let me know because she knew of my pining. “Would it be okay if I went with him or would you rather I said no?” This is what she asked me. She gave me the choice because my friendship meant something to her and because her kindness made my feelings matter more than her dance plans. I told her to go. He’d chosen her. And that I’d appreciated her thoughtfulness.

(On a side note, look at the memory she created. It wasn’t the story of being wronged by a friend. It was the story of a beautiful friendship. Thanks for that, She-D.)

So, I didn’t get the dance experience that I’d dreamt of and never got to date He-D. I didn’t get a lot of the high school experiences that we are taught to value by Hollywood. And in the loss of wanted things, envy is born. And in my life, I have envied others for having more time to do things, for not having to work, for being able to do things easily, for not being alone, for having perfect holidays and bubbly children.

But, since I have taken to the writing road, the envies and jealousies are fewer. This is not to say that they don’t still rear up and demand attention. What’s different now is that in my life-living knapsack, I carry an Envy Basher and within minutes, usually, I have beaten the envy to a puddle of muck and moved on with the gratitude I feel to have lived long enough to find the road I currently walk.

Recently, I had the opportunity to see just how far I’ve come from my younger self who envied with abandon to my less-younger self (calling myself old seemed off-putting), who discovered something very beautiful in the good fortune of a dear friend.

My writerly BFF, Debbie Schubert, received some news worthy of being shouted from all the fair peaks in the land (and do believe that she will soon be shouting) and I was one of the first who knew the news. Now, months ago, Debbie and I had talked about how it would feel to have one of us receive said news before the other, both knowing that we would be happy for the other, but wondering if we would harbor the envy beast in our hopeful hearts.

I don’t think it would count as a proper science fair project, but we certainly had the chance for experimentation. And at the moment of happy news disclosure, I felt around in my insides and found only joy. Delightful, bubbly, wondrous joy. I was as thrilled for her as I would be for myself, maybe more because I really believe that this is her time to shine and she’s found someone who can appreciate all the talent and love-inspiring qualities I see in her.

To quote Grey’s Anatomy (which I am still watching obsessively... for the love of all that’s decent, please get me a Grey’s Anatomy patch or something), Debbie has found “her person.”

And I couldn’t be happier. I thought maybe in my hours of solitude after the call, the envy beasts might appear and I looked around and found... only joy again.

This is a huge step for Debbie, for me, and for our friendship. This was life’s little test for me and I passed.

Quote for the Day from Me.

“Our greatest joys are greater and our darkest times brighter, just for being lucky enough to have friends to witness, to nurture, and to share.” (Look at me, thinking I’m all that and making my own quote for the day). ;)


Jemi Fraser said...

What a lovely, lovely post!

Shared joy is wonderful. Like the proverbial candle, it gets brighter when shared.

I'm so thrilled for Debra! What excitement :)

Indigo said...

Beautiful post. I knew the envy beast all too well. Growing up wishing I didn't have a hearing disability and then later as a deaf adult. It took a lot of growing up to realize the value of who I was hearing or not.

These days I cherish who I am and I've learned to cherish others for whatever reason that makes them unique. The envy beast belittle life. Shared joy is like nothing else. I can't wait to hear Debra's news. (Hugs)Indigo

DebraLSchubert said...

Julie, You're the best. I can't wait to see you next week. My success is your success, and yours is mine. We are in this for the long haul. ;-)

Kasie West said...

First of all, congratulations Debra!!!! I'll say it again: That is sooooo awesome! Second of all, I really want an iPhone, badly. Is this wrong, Julie? And third, it's so true that when your friends succeed sometimes it is just as good as when we, ourselves, do. I have friends I feel that way about too. Great post.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Lovely. So happy Debra has you.

Julie said...


Thanks for the comments. And isn't Debbie's story fabulous?! I feel very lucky to have her friendship and to be on this path with her.

And I'm one of those people who thinks that everything happens for a reason; in which case, I'm supposed to be in her life and she in mine.

That just tickles me to no end.

Julie said...


What a beautiful and poignant response. Thanks so much for sharing. And I agree that we have to learn to accept ourselves and that does more to beat back the envy beasts than anything else.

Can't wait until it's your turn for the big, exciting news!

Julie said...


The long haul is right, missy! Especially after I meet and charm your new niece (my new mini BFF) next week. I'm thrilled for your success and the love-in going on over at your blog!

Love ya!

Julie said...


Seriously, wanting the iPhone is a sign of an evolved human spirit (truly). Now, not having the iPhone is either a sign that we stepped on small, sweet, furry woodland creatures in our past lives or we are showing great restraint and are in touch with the power of non-attachment (but really, I'm betting the furry creatures thing).

And I completely agree. I think in our society, it's so common (after high school sports) to be isolated from the sense of team spirit. Writing may be a mostly solitary activity, but the writing community is a team. And it's amazing to see everyone come together to root for each other when the good days come. I didn't even post on Debbie's blog today, because every time I looked at it I was overcome with her fan club. It's amazing.

And on a side note, your blog cracked me up and thanks for the New Moon advice!

Julie said...


Thanks for stopping by and I'm pretty happy to have Debbie in my life, too. I enjoyed your blog today and I'm still thinking about my top ten books. I'll have to blog about it when I figure it out. :)

Tricia said...

I live the vicariously through my writer friend's successes to tide me over 'till I have some for myself.

Our successes, big or small, is a shared event by fellow writers. I'm happy for Debra, what an awesome post.

DebraLSchubert said...

I had to pop back in to say, "thank you." Your comments move my soul.

Julie said...


Thanks for stopping by the blog! I am still chuckling over your shock collar comment on Kasie's blog.

And yes, I do believe that all of our big and small moments carry ripples for this wonderful writing community!