If I Had Never…

 In Reflections

“Ten times a day something happens to me like this some strengthening throb of amazement some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.

–Mary Oliver (shared by Beverly Voss in Writing Our Joy Workshop)

This morning I woke up later than usual and almost skipped my walk, thinking of the full day I had ahead of me. If I had not gone out, I would have missed three of my favorite four-legged friends (and their two-legged companions) greeting me with puppy-like chaos all at once. The laughter their exuberant welcome caused will carry me through the day.

What do you miss when you tell yourself you don’t have time for something or you’re so distracted you forget to pay attention to the moment?

In her June Poetry of the Present session, Cathey Capers invited us to use a writing prompt from one of the poems she shared: “If I had never…”. I thought of this phrase often these past two weeks and was reminded of it this morning and during Beverly Voss’ workshop, Writing Our Joy, this past Saturday.

Looking back on some of my most memorable “If I had never” experiences, I realize they were extra special because I almost talked myself out of participating. Jan Meyer conveys this push and pull within us in her poem Joyfulish (see below). When we heard it Saturday morning, I know I speak for other attendees when I say we were so glad she showed up for a program about joy even when she wasn’t feeling it.

I invite you to ponder your favorite “If I had never” moments and to use them to give you the courage to do some things beyond your comfort zone this summer. You just might experience a joyful encounter that makes your day.

May you be attentive to the opportunities for joy just beyond your comfort zone.


My JOY this morning is elusive.
I am trying to connect,
but keep missing the last step of the staircase.
Maybe I should keep this to myself.
THE topic is supposed to be jJOYFULsomething..grrr.

Ugh! , Shusshhhh!!
Did all the chatty ladies in my head decide to wake up?
Yes…we did..
You don’t know these people, they mutter.
…Of course… If I’m silent, I won’t have to risk the healing laughter that might
bubble past my sentries.
I can feel JOY intentionally seeking me out.
Should I just smile and pretend?
JOY is not allowing any phony pretenses today.
Instead it’s spilling multicolored   giggles  all over the walls of my sorrow.

Despair is trying desperately to hang on, but JOY can be such a pushy woman
when she’s on a mission.
Oh, no, I’m slipping over the edge.
Now I’m on the floor throwing my feet over my head like my kindergarteners.

It’s a full-on surge of unrelenting mirth.

Despite my resolve to resist,
JOY has over-powered me
with the compassionate tenderness
of newly met cohorts sharing their circuitous pathways to happiness.

And quite by accident…
my Spirit has been awakened once again
by JOY.

–Jan Meyer, 6/21

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