Gary Haugen: Joy is the Oxygen

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No Reason Whatsoever

No Reason Whatsoever

Fear is a terrible friend. Keeps us up at night. Seems to call at weird times. Doesn’t care if we are too busy or too sad. Prevents us from making any good decisions during the day. CONSTANTLY TALKS OVER US. What if? Have you heard? What about? Did you read this article?

When we are stuck at home, separate from the routines and rhythms that keep us grounded, trapped with fear as our steady companion, I cling to an important lesson I learned during a particularly horrible week.

I remember it vividly.

I went from a medical hellscape—an unrelenting gauntlet of drama the likes of which I never want to see again—to a research trip. Now, as a super-nerd academic, this trip would normally be a welcome distraction, but I couldn’t shake the impending doom. How could I research the number of megachurches with the words “Winner” “Victory” and “Life” in the name when all I could think about was how afraid I am?

But I took an approach on that trip that taught me a really important lesson. And here it is:

You can find incredible peace and joy when you discover you are doing something for NO REASON AT ALL.

Did I help skin an elk for an indigenous studies class? Yes! I did skin an elk! (Lots of strong shoulder work.)

Did I go visit the World’s Largest Ukrainian Sausage? I sure did!

I learned how to make schpritzel-something-rathers because my old college roommate is obsessed with German cookie making. And I watched a soloist hammer out the chords on her guitar like she didn’t care if any person on any planet wanted to follow her on Twitter.

I have always said that I don’t have hobbies, I have friends. And maybe I don’t need to be whittling much on the side. But I do need to cultivate a habit that my friends have already figured out: trying feels so good.

Every day is full of hard choices. We must do hard things. Give all we can. Love all the people we can. But then, as we are running dry….then what?

When there is not much we can control, why not try something which is absolutely for no reason.

When the stakes are so low, it becomes all about you and the beautiful stupidity of caring.

I have a bunch of really garbage art that I picked up from thrift shops. So what could be better than painting monsters into the background? Nothing. Nothing could be better.

Do I still know all the words to MC Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This” in French? Yes I do. Should I perform them over FaceTime to unsuspecting friends? WHO CAN STOP ME?

My friend Will was recently found in his garage using a saw to cut out a wooden snake. Because he decided the house was missing something: wooden snakes.

So maybe today, you need permission to do something for no reason whatsoever.

Bake the cookies your great aunt used to make… even if they don’t turn out perfectly. Read a poem out loud with a fake Swedish accent.

Lay in the grass and form cloud animals or dream up new constellations. Challenge your kid to a LEGO competition. Take up whittling or learn to cross stitch an inappropriate saying onto a pillow. Take whistling lessons from YouTube.

Because even when fear threatens to swallow us whole, we will not be consumed. Ask yourself, what is possible today? Then do the thing… for no reason whatsoever.

How did it feel to try?

I’d love to know.

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Willa McNeill
2 months ago

Thanks. There is a kit for Christmas ornaments that I would like to have. Maybe now is the time to try to order them and possibly even make them. Doing so would commit to something beyond this. Christmas will come again.

Barbara Barnes
Barbara Barnes
2 months ago
Reply to  Willa McNeill

That’s right up my alley for down time. Etsy? Somewhere else? Are you able to steer me in the direction?

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Team Everything Happens
2 months ago
Reply to  Barbara Barnes
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Team Everything Happens
2 months ago
Reply to  Willa McNeill

Willa, this is lovely! Not just the idea to make Christmas ornaments but that it also points to hope of the future. Thanks for sharing.

Nancy
Nancy
2 months ago

Loved this because with so much time on our hands, it is up to us to fill it constructively. The pace of life has changed out of necessity and it feels off-balance at first. I love the idea of doing something simply because you want to and it contributes to your own feeling of wellness! Isolation is a real thing, especially to those of us who live alone, are older or are alone already not by choice. It’s another layer of distance/sadness! I have talked to my sisters and kids more often in the past week that is our usual… Read more »

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Team Everything Happens
2 months ago
Reply to  Nancy

Nancy, I hate that you are truly isolated at this time with nobody else at home with you. You are so wise to call our attention to that extra layer of distance and sadness. I think our communities should be paying special attention to this reality. So thankful you have your sisters and kids in all this. Let me know if you think of a fun activity that has no reason :)!

Karen Nast-Kolb
Karen Nast-Kolb
2 months ago

Thanks, Kate for these timely words. My dining room table has become a permanent art centre where we can sit down at any time of day or night and paint. Our small endeavours bring joy to each day.

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Team Everything Happens
2 months ago

Beautiful, Karen. I’m sure you will create some lovely pieces in this time. I’m turning my dining room table into a puzzle center!
Best,
Kilpy, Team Everything Happens

Dr. Ann Weiss
2 months ago

Beautiful. You always have words of wisdom that resonate with my heart and soul. Blessings to you, Kate.

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Team Everything Happens
2 months ago
Reply to  Dr. Ann Weiss

Thanks so much for this sweet note! So glad things here are resonating.
Sending you our best.
Kilpy, Team Everything Happens

Thomas Golding
Thomas Golding
2 months ago

This is a lesson that every child understands and almost every adult forgets until God reminds us.

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Team Everything Happens
2 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Golding

Ahh yes! Great reflection.

Dawn
Dawn
2 months ago

I have always wanted to learn how to draw trees. So after I reading this I tried it! It turned out very average, but who cares and it was great trying! I plan to pick a new tree drawing today 🙂 Thanks for being you Kate! You rock!!

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Team Everything Happens
2 months ago
Reply to  Dawn

Love this, Dawn! Good for you for making that first attempt. Are you drawing based off of real trees around you?

Marge
Marge
2 months ago

I want to create a fairy garden. Every time I visit my neighborhood garden store I see the displays. They fill me with joy. I have no idea how I will do this and that’s what stops me. So point well taken. Thanks!!

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Team Everything Happens
1 month ago
Reply to  Marge

Yes! Please do this! It sounds lovely and whimsical.

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