David Robert Jones, MS LPC

To Build a Swing (15)

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15 minute writing timer. Ready. Set. Go.

You carry
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare —
Don’t mix them!

You have all the genius 
To build a swing in your backyard
For God.

That sounds
Like a hell of a lot more fun.
Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.

I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.

Will sing a thousand words 
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Silver hammers,

Polished teakwood,
Strong silk rope.

You carry all the ingredients 
To turn your existence into joy,

Mix them, mix 

(Hafiz, The Gift)

One of the joys of my life is watching university students wake up to their lives, to the power that they have to change their lives from this moment forward, and to walk alongside of them as they notice they are carrying around all the ingredients that they need to turn their existence into joy and begin to mix those ingredients. 

They are facing their inner demons, their traumas, their thought and behavior patterns, and their narratives that they’ve been telling themselves over and over.

And they are discovering that they don’t have to live a life they don’t want to live and that the circumstances don’t have to change for them to start building a swing in their backyard.

Watching them choose to turn their existence into joy is, as I have said before, one of the greatest joys of my life and I am continually inspired by their courage to face fears and pain and to enter more and more deeply into who they truly are.

It is humbling to realize that while we can’t control most of the circumstances in this dance of life, we do get to control how we respond and what we make of them.

Some have it “harder” than others and some suffer in ways that seem unimaginable. Here, Viktor Frankl is qualified more than I am to speak:

“There are situations in which one is cut off from the opportunity to do one’s work or enjoy one’s life; but what can never be ruled out is the unavoidability of suffering. In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end. In other words, life’s meaning is an unconditional one, for it even includes the potential meaning of unavoidable suffering.” (Viktor, Man’s Search for Meaning. 2006.(p. 114).

We always carry all the ingredients to turn our existence into joy.

We get to choose whether or not we want to mix them.

I think that being able to choose them when we feel least able to do so is a wondrous grace.

And I know from firsthand experience that during the times when I have mixed ingredients together to turn my life into a nightmare that Hafiz’ words and Frankl’s words stung in extreme ways and often brought about a defensive and angry posture. 

During those times, I had given away any strong sense of ownership over the rest of life and instead devolved into a lesser story.

For those who haven’t been in that kind of darkness, even giving a nod to the possibility of the existence of joy can seem an impossibility.

How often is it not until we are at some “bottom” of our nightmare that we realize we are resting on the solid ground that has always been holding us. And then we find our feet and with grace we rise and notice that somehow we do have what it takes to be with this moment. That we can choose to be with life as it is as we are.

And in choosing to be with life as it is as we are, we begin to know ourselves more deeply, we begin to remember who we are and what we have, and we begin to see that what we need is here, now, waiting for us to mix it, to choose it, and to experience a joy and wholeness and peace and love that is beyond the changing phenomena of this world.

You carry all the ingredients 
To turn your existence into joy,

Mix them, mix 


Ready to take the next step?

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