This month’s promise is to “live joyfully for no apparent reason.”

Lately, I’ve been thinking about joy as a flotation device.

I have been sad because my left arm and hand have gotten weaker and less responsive. Often, I am unable to drive my wheelchair. Because of that, I no longer volunteer in the ESL classroom – something that has brought me great joy and satisfaction. I’m also less likely to say yes to other outings. There is a weight of grief on me, as though I am submerged.

Those emotions seem appropriate, under the circumstances. To pretend I feel happy-chirpy would be inauthentic.

But I don’t want to get lost in the sadness.

Any funeral I’ve attended has included laughter. Friends and family describe the deceased’s funny little ways and everyone laughs. It’s a loving I’m-sure-gonna-miss-that laughter. It doesn’t, for a minute, presume to blow away the sadness.

It just lifts it.

In the same way, I want to live joyfully while I leave room for the sadness of these recent losses.

Joy can bring me up from the depths in the same way as grabbing onto a life preserver lifts one to the surface of the water.

I can hold onto joy, even surrounded by sadness and grief. I don’t have to choose between one and the other. These days, I am feeling both.