Sharing the Joy

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.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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27 Responses to Sharing the Joy

  1. Modern life is so hectic, and it’s so easy to be lost in the daily mundane and familiar routines instead of feeling grateful. We need to remind ourselves that life is good! Thanks for that reminder!

  2. Leah says:

    Great post and very beautiful line. Sad about Whitney. I hope she finds peace.

  3. pattisj says:

    I had an aunt with clinical depression. It’s so hard to watch people suffer.

  4. notquiteold says:

    Thank you for leading me to Sexton’s poem. It’s new for me, and lovely. I went to a reading by Anne Sexton the year before she died. She seemed so apart from the people in the room – it was almost as if she were already gone.

    • Coming East says:

      Wow, NQO, how fabulous that you actually heard her read, and what a sad comment about how you felt she was already gone. Glad you found this wonderful, uplifting poem of hers.

  5. gaycarboys says:

    It’s a sad loss, and such a waste of a beautiful life and great talent. I worry that her daughter is going the same way. It’s been reported she fell asleep in the bathtub the night before Whitney died. It sounds like someone asking for help to me. Let’s hope someone is listening.

  6. Amy says:

    “The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard, dies young.” is such a sad line… I agree, no one chooses unhappiness. Normal people can bounce back, but people who suffer in depression can go deeper and deeper.
    I’m saddened by Whitney’s death. A blogger said that Whitney is now joining with the angel voices in Heaven…

  7. cori bailey says:

    As a medullo-mom (mom of a child bravely fighting brain cancer) I find joy in places I never thought possible, and have experienced those utter pangs of dispair. I loved this post and have shared it with my world of contacts. Thank you for your warm insight I thoroughly enjoyed.

  8. Shary Hover says:

    You’re so right that depression doesn’t discriminate. Those who seem fortunate in every way may be fighting a daily battle for simple happiness. Maybe one day there will be more understanding and better solutions to help everyone share in the joy of life.

  9. Al says:

    Very nice tribute and advice,Susan. And penned perfectly.

  10. It amazes me what desensitization and lack of connection to other human beings makes us rank people with our own scale. As thought Whitney H. were less human because of her choices and sufferings and public frailties. Completely shocks me.
    Such truth in that last statement. We must share our joy. Thanks for sharing yours today!

  11. One of my joys at this point in my life is waking to your beautiful posts! I know it’s been said many times, but unless and until you have felt the despair of that depression even for a short period, you cannot truly experience the pure joy of that songbird, the all embracing warmth of those wool socks, the soft touch of a cat paw on your cheek or a dog resting her head in your lap. Thanks for causing me to stop and notice this morning!

  12. E.C. says:

    Your words are so true. I think finding the joy, no matter how small really does make a positive difference in our days and our lives. It’s so sad that some folks can’t see it or feel it or appreciate it.
    It’s awful that Whitney Houston died so young. She touched many hearts and many lives. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

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