Sunday, April 8, 2012

Letting Go, Accepting Laughter

Ah, it is good to be tired in this way. In order to explain what I mean, let me tell you a story of the day.

I woke this morning around five in a hotel room in Zion. My best friend was already up but soon enough lay back down and we both drifted in light sleep for a while until it was time to get up. We are on vacation here, so it might seem odd that it was "time to get up." My friend is a photographer and morning light matters to such people. So we needed to get up for him to go take shots. As for me, I'm not photographer. I was headed out for a run.

Soon we were in Zion Canyon. He got on the shuttle to Court of the Patriarchs and I took the Pa'rus Trail at a leisurely trot. To say that the run took my breath away is to state both the literal and the cliche, but both are worth mentioning. I literally didn't have enough air because I'm not used to running at elevation and so was doing much more than my usual amount of panting. That's not terribly interesting or surprising, though the thought hadn't occurred to me prior to the first quarter mile. The interesting part is all the cliche stuff.After I had run a mile and a half in the park, I turned about to head back to the visitor's center and from there through the town of Springdale and back to the hotel. I was only a few hundred yards into the run back through the canyon when I turned and saw the West Temple aglow with morning sunlight. My friend had said that it would light up with the sunrise, but I had no idea that it would be so spectacular.I began to laugh.

I was running down the road, gasping a bit for air, and laughing with every step.

Immediately I went to my bad place which is the place in which I analyze things. Why was I laughing? What kind of reaction is that to have? What if someone saw me? And back to What are you laughing about? I was troubled by my reaction to the moment and couldn't understand what was going on. I almost stopped laughing.

But no. I looked back at the West Temple and laughed again.I made a conscious decision then to feel whatever it was I was feeling and stop analyzing the why's of it. I didn't need to understand why I was laughing and I didn't need anyone's approval. It was just fine for me to have an emotional reaction. There would be time to analyze things later.

And so there is.It's later now and I understand almost exactly what happened. I was overcome with emotion. It wasn't sadness, it wasn't fear, it wasn't even awe. I think that it was nothing short of joy and joy is so often best expressed with laughter.In my life I have been trained to resist emotional reactions that aren't anger and even that I've been taught to keep in check. When I was ten years old I had my last good cry for a long time. After that, and for reasons I won't get into in this entry, I forgot how. I held my dog as she was put to sleep but couldn't cry. I held my newborn daughter and couldn't cry at the joy of that. Until very recently I have kept myself from these things.There is no good in that.

And so today has been a day of feeling emotions, of reveling in joy so strong that I had to laugh out loud running down the canyon by myself. I have felt the awe and fear of being 1400 feet above the Canyon on Angel's Landing, walking a narrow rock path with drops on either side off into the emptiness. I have felt the quiet peace and contentment of sitting still while my friend sets up and waits for the photographic moment he needs to create majestic art. And now I feel the calm joy of having been through all of that in one day and the wonder of knowing that there is more to come tomorrow.

There is more to come every tomorrow whether I am in Zion with my best friend, standing in the kitchen cooking with my daughters, or holding fast to my wife and feeling her love.

Write on.