You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy . . . mix them, mix them! Hafiz
It makes sense that it was a cowboy song that wafted through the airwaves on this Saturday evening. After all, we were in the heart of cowboy country in this cowboy store in this cowboy town. And Cam was singing right along as he pushed the stroller through the aisles of boots and hats, belt buckles and snap-front shirts. Someone once told me that while Rock and Roll ignites our passion, Country opens our hearts. And it was true for me over Labor Day Weekend while browsing the Boot Barn in Laramie, Wyoming. My heart was feeling open, my spirit swaying to the country twang. We were on an adventure, out for a stroll with a stroller, in a town that was new for us. Pete and Shel and Baby Viren had just moved from Boulder, Colorado to Laramie, Wyoming two weeks earlier where Pete was beginning his year as visiting professor, and Cam and I had arrived in town the day before. As Cam rocked the stroller back and forth, singing his cowboy song, Shel tried on brown knee-high boots embroidered in a pink western floral, while Pete sifted through racks of leather belts, and I found my way over to the baby clothes. It was a good moment for all of us.
A few days earlier, before heading off to Laramie, back in my Upper Peninsula town of Ishpeming, I had driven past the Wonderland Motel and had noticed that there was a new quote on the motel’s small billboard: “Joy isn’t in things; it’s in us.” And of course this is true. Viscerally, I feel it each time I lie on my yoga mat or traipse through the woods or walk barefoot in the sand and the waves; I feel it, this bubbling well-spring of joy that is sometimes wild and reckless and other times calm and peaceful, each time I sink down into that inner place and remember to breathe and appreciate. And I know that it is my challenge and my intention to live my life with this inner navigational system guiding the way. And so, yes, it is an inside job; I agree with the Wonderland’s wonderful quote. And, I add to this quote that we are born into these bodies that are matter, in a world that is matter. We are born into a world of things, each moment, born anew into a world of things, born, on this night in Laramie, into a world of high plains and the Snowy Mountains, into a full moon rising over the wide western sky, into a world where a song was playing on the radio and we were all shopping in a store that felt vibrant and novel to us. And Viren, the youngest member of our tribe of adventurers at eight weeks old, was wide-eyed and kicking, a smile on his round baby face, as he leaned back into his carseat-stroller-perch and listened to his grandpa sing to him a cowboy song.
I love hanging out with Viren. Of course I do; I’m his grandmother and he is adorable. And, it’s deeper than than that. He’s also my robust twelve-pound bundle-of-joy teacher. When he’s not sleeping or nursing, he is always moving, stretching and flailing his little arms and legs, flexing his feet, lifting his head and strengthening his neck. When you lay him down on his back after he’s been scrunched in his carseat, he reaches his arms behind him, lengthens his legs and moves his face into the most delicious of yawns. Each day, each moment is a new adventure for this little adventurer as he concentrates on grabbing at his foot or aiming his fist into his mouth. He, who was born with his eyes wide open, who was born wise in a way that we have long forgotten, is now spending his time learning to fully inhabit his body. And he certainly is living from the inside out. The joy that you can feel emanating from him, the joy that ignites your own inner joy, you know that it bubbles from someplace deep. And yet, he loves this world around him, this world of things: the smile on his mother’s face, the smile on anybody’s face, a new sound — maybe a dog barking or a grandmother sticking her tongue out and making funny blowing noises — the warmth of the day, the wind, a book with photos of baby animals, his mother’s milk. What would he do without his mother’s milk — and isn’t that a “thing” and doesn’t it bring him joy?
Before our shopping extravaganza at the Boot Barn, we had eaten at a Thai Restaurant in downtown Laramie. I had ordered the Green Curry. I love Green Curry, the blend of spicy and cool, sweet and zippy, as comforting to me as mother’s milk is to Viren. And I love a full moon rising and a sky that is wide and spacious. I love the black ruffled skirt that I tried on in this western store. And I love that Pete found a belt that will be perfect with his professor pants and Shelly, a dress that is adorable on her thin post-baby body. I love that Cam, who I haven’t heard sing like this in a long time, was lit up with his country song, and the baby who was listening was lit up, too. I love this world of matter, this world of things, the way it lights up and it matters, when we are living from the inside out.