Moods happen, sweeping in and out of our lives, but they don’t just happen by themselves. We are always, in one way or another, participants in them.
Each mood shapes our engagement with what we experience, bringing forward some features of the world and obscuring others; and each mood opens or closes a particular space of possibility for us. And because of this we each have the opportunity – the responsibility – to understand how to shift our moods, so that we can respond appropriately to what the world is bringing us.
I’m writing this tonight because I’ve found myself, since this morning’s first light, most prominently in a mood of despair. It had crept up on me overnight, as such moods often do, and although it brings with it a certain attunement to the troubles of the world, it also robs me of joy, and of connection to others, and of hope.
And then, tonight, I find myself dancing with increasing abandon at a silent disco, around a blazing campfire, on a programme I’m working on this week. Being in company, sharing in an activity with others, thrilling music, flames and smoke mingling and lighting us, the deepening mid-summer sky – all of these bring out in me an intense joy at being alive, at being in relationship, at being in human.
And I’m overjoyed by my joy. Without it, I would long ago – and in a very constrained, held-in kind of way – have slipped away to bed.
My darker moods often obscure this very possibility. That, for me, dancing, walking outdoors, a blue or starlit sky, the ocean, holding hands, writing, poetry, music, looking into the eyes of a person I care about, studying something I love, a mountain – that all of these bring me to life again. All of these restore me to joy, and gratitude, and wonder.
And they remind me that life is very precious, and very very short, and that joy and gratitude and wonder, at least some of the time, are pre-requisites for a life well lived and good work well done.