Finding Double Joy In Life

Posted by Rahul Brown on Apr 19, 2017
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Though we’re not Catholics, we have a running tradition of giving up something for Lent, which we then try to carry through for the rest of the year. This year we eliminated every food that contained added sugar and replaced it with natural sugar through abundant fruit.  Fortunately, years ago we discovered the sweetest oranges around, “Song Hay” navel oranges-- which I’m told translates as “double joy” in Cantonese. They truly live up to the name, and every winter long before this sugar fast, we would anticipate their arrival and end up eating about 5 - 8 pounds a week at the height of orange season. This morning, I eagerly peeled a ‘Song Hay’ and took my first juicy bite—except it tasted tangy metallic with an undertone of bitter. The flavor distortion was courtesy of my toothpaste, whose artificial sweet makes other sweet things taste odd when eaten soon after brushing. To normalize my palate, I ate a salty chip to re-enable enjoyment of the marvelous orange just as nature intended – with true double-joy :-)

Modern living can often be just like the artificial sweet of toothpaste that distorts the genuine simple sweetness of everyday life. If you are reading this, chances are high that you too have many material comforts that are simply unavailable to much of humanity. Yet does your warm running water soak you with bubbly joy? Do your three nutritious meals per day satiate you with energized fulfillment? Does air travel make your heart soar to the skies? Does internet in your pocket give you the expansive joy of boundless awareness? Leaving even modern luxuries aside, does the chirp of birds in the morning put a song in your step and a smile on your face? Does the sunrise illuminate your imagination with endless possibilities for the gift of another day on earth? You probably answer ‘no’ to these questions at a level that’s far out of proportion with how fortunate you are to experience these gifts in the first place. Losing that baseline awareness of the blessings all around can even make the little natural joys seem a little tangy-bitter.

Much like the salty chip that normalizes a palate, compassionate action resets the taste buds on life. I’m grateful that every time I forget this, my friends are living examples who remind me to flex the muscles of compassion and generosity so I can once again feel gratitude for my uncountable blessings.

May we all develop these priceless habits of the heart with the power to give both ourselves and others real happiness—life’s original double-joy :-)

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