Six times a year we will be inviting a community member from either North or South Dundas to write a few words about Life Matters. They will write upon a variety of topics and we hope you will enjoy reading them and they will give a lift to your day.
I am usually a pretty extroverted and practical person. I like adventure, interaction, and social settings that provide a level of energy that recharges me. I play in a band. I go to open mic nights. When it comes to ideas and/or thoughts, I like to spend my time on things that make a concrete difference in my life, or in the lives and worlds around me. I am not a thinker for the sake of thinking. If I’m looking for something that brings joy, I’d rather pick up my guitar, go on adventure, or sing with a bunch of people than sit quietly and ponder things.
With the upcoming anniversary of the COVID lockdowns I am aware of how few of my “tools of joy” have been available. Travel has been limited at best, and shut down at worst. The most distant adventure I’ve been on was visiting my mother. She lives four houses down. There have been no open mic nights, and for safety reasons, my bandmates who live in Ottawa have been hesitant to put our community at risk of exposure to COVID from the city. My life of adventure and stimulation has become incredibly isolated, and that has brought on some unexpected outcomes.
I like to think of myself as a pretty patient and compassionate person. I like to think that I can get along with most people, and because of my work, I’ve got an extra “gear” when it comes to empathy and patience. However, over the past few months I’ve noticed that my “tank” is empty. I’m tired. I’ve got a short fuse. My ability to make space for the needs of others is hard to access more often than I’d care to admit.
Because of my work, and my genuine care for friends and family, I reached out to my therapist. One of the benefits of my work is that we have access counselling services when needed. I have a long standing professional relationship with the lead counsellor there, and she is someone who I trust very much. Which is why I was less than excited to hear her feedback: “Well Jon, it looks like you are about to begin the challenging journey inward as you take on some of the tools of contemplation!”
You may remember my first paragraph above. If you do, you can probably imagine my face as she said it. I wondered why I couldn’t just find some coping mechanisms to help me ride out the rest of COVID. In short (I do have a word count to consider here) she told me that we needed to do this for two reasons. The first, we can’t be certain of how long it will take be before the world gets back to even somewhat normal. The second, she pointed out that I was depending of external things, such as other people or things, to bring me joy and fullness. Now that I didn’t have access to them, my life had significantly less joy. If the only thing I can control in this world is me, then I need to find a way to find joy within me. And as she points out, the only one responsible for my life, feelings, and needs, is me.
So, this week I begin a new journey. I’ve picked up two books (as recommended): Total Meditation by Deepak Chopra, and Atomic Habits by James Clear. Apparently, if we want to connect with joy throughout our lives, we need to first be able to find it within ourselves. I’ll let you know how it goes!
About this month’s writer:
Jon grew up along the shores of the St. Lawrence River in the small town of Ingleside. This included being a member of the parish of St. James Anglican Church, Morrisburg, as a teenager at the same time his mother (The Rev. Canon Pat Martin) was the assistant priest.
Jon is passionate about social justice, helping to create safe space for those who live on the margins, finding ways to develop healthy relationships between the church and the local community they serve, as well as the Ottawa Senators, Manchester United, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Jon completed his Doctor of Ministry in 2020 with a focus on helping rural churches address issues surrounding church decline by using the principles of Sacred Hospitality to rebuild relationships between the parish and the wider community.
Jon has taken up golf as a way to spend more time with his father in law. This seems to make Jon, and his wife (Melanie), very happy.
Contact Rev. Jon: email@example.com