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Joyful Effort

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


Jim and I were on our way home from Kingston on the weekend and as we drove north on highway 62 he spotted a Barred Owl sitting in a tree.  It was camouflaged and I would never have noticed it.  I turned the car around, pulled over to the side of the road and there it was sitting in the tree.  Still.  Big.  We stood quietly and  watched it for a few minutes and then it spread its large wings and flew away. 

Jim gave me binoculars for Christmas this year and it is our intention to do more birding together in 2020. It will be interesting to see what stories I have to tell at the end of this year because of that  intention.  I am a beginner who has been surrounded by birders who are so enthusiastic and full of love for watching birds for many years. Collectively they spend thousands and thousands of hours in nature with the birds every year.  We joke that they have many bird lists. The birds that come to their bird feeders is a list.  The birds they see while sitting at a cafe having coffee.  Birds they see while drive from one place to another.  Birds they see while sitting in the campground (perhaps with a glass of wine in hand).  You get the idea.  They bird everywhere and all the time. It is a way of being.  

The buddha talked about  the idea of “joyful effort” as the way to get something done or the way to learn something you are passionate about or the way to start something new.   Joyful effort, enthusiasm or love are all words that describe a positive way of feeling you can actively cultivate.  When you can bring those qualities to whatever you are doing, you are more likely to stick the task and get better and stronger at it.  I can tell you that after watching my friends for all these years, there is a lot of love, so much enthusiasm and joyful effort whether it is raining, cold, snowing or the drive is long.  They just love watching birds. 

I know so many people who have the same kind of joyful effort for their music, or their art, or their sports.  Their kids.  Their reading. Their writing.  Their volunteer jobs. Their travel.   Their  work.  Their community.  The beauty of the world is that we are all different and passionate about different things.  That is what makes us strong and vibrant and able to carry on.  As you contemplate 2020 I wonder what you will bring your joyful effort, your enthusiasm, your love to?  And how will that affect not only you, but the people around you.  I wish us all good health, love, enthusiasm, joyful effort and peace for 2020.

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