On this cold winter Monday morning, after reading Anne Sexton‘s poem “Welcome Morning,” I thought of all the things I could find joy in. I found it in the sweet morning kisses of my husband. I found it while sitting over a cup of morning tea and homemade toast with him before he went off to work. I found it in birdsong and sun in my courtyard. I found it in the steamy shower I took after breakfast, and the feel of the warm wool socks I got for Christmas as I put them on my cold feet. As Anne Sexton wrote, “There is joy in all.”
Unfortunately, Anne Sexton was not able to keep that joy in mind. She suffered depression all of her adult life and committed suicide when she was in her forties. I thought about Whitney Houston, too, as I read that poem. Though we do not know the cause of her death, we know she led a troubled life. Happy people do not take drugs. Some people will say that she was a victim of her own bad choices. That may be true, but no one chooses unhappiness. It just seems to follow some all their lives.
All of us have experienced, or will experience, depression. No one escapes it, no matter how charmed one’s life seems to be. The loss of a friend or a loved one, the loss of a job, the children all leaving home (though there is joy in this, too, especially if they are in a good place in their lives), and the other vicissitudes of life, bring us moments of sadness and sometimes despair. Fortunately, for most of us, these times are short-lived. Imagine, however, those sad days going on and on with only brief moments of reprieve. Until we have walked in someone else’s shoes, we have no business judging. We do not know what masks people are hiding behind.
Anne Sexton ended her poem by writing, “The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard, dies young.” So I’m sharing this with you and hope you will find joy this day.