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The Baby Project: A lesson in sympathetic joy



A photo from our honeymoon to Costa Rica in August, 2010.

I love NPR. I started listening in journalism school and did not stop until I began walking or biking to work most mornings (biking with an iPod is a big no-no). A few months ago I realized I was in a news rut. I had NO IDEA what was happening in the world so I bought a small bathroom radio to listen to NPR in the morning and started reading NPR online during my lunch break.

I have found just delightful things online – wonderful blogs and detailed projects that I was unaware of. I have two current obsessions:

  1. Krulwich Wonders: This guy is just amazing. Not only is his writing fantastic, his subject matter is baffling. I love this guy and if it were not for my wonderful, awesome and intelligent husband, I would want to have his babies (assuming I ever ovulate). Which brings me to my second NPR online obsession… which is not nearly as healthy for me….
  2. The Baby Project: I read this blog like people stop traffic on the interstate to gawk at a horrid accident. I read this blog like people who have a fear of blood and murder watch Dexter. I read this blog and I cry. I read this blog and I feel angry. On some really bad days I read this blog and hate myself. And then occasionally, I read this blog and find inspiration and hope. Those days are few and far between.
Like a moth drawn to the flame, I can’t seem to stop reading baby stories, birthing tales, looking at photos of friends’ babies on Facebook and reading the pregnancy forum on Fertility Friend. All this reading only makes me more depressed about our situation.

This morning I caught up on the Baby Project and, thankfully, was able to stave off any tears and anger because the Gonal-F is making me feel wonderfully happy and peppy after weeks of progesterone depression.

But this is not the norm. I also know that at any given moment my hormones may experience a tectonic shift and I’ll be sobbing because I want janked up lady parts post natural birth, dammit. (Lateefah Torrence, by the way, is my absolute favorite blogger of the NPR Baby Project. Her writing is wonderful. I aspire to write about my one-day pregnancy with such wit.)

My yoga teacher (who is aware of our struggle and seems to read the mood I’m in from the way I unroll my yoga mat) has been reiterating the importance of “Sympathetic Joy” at our classes recently. Is it that obvious that I’m a train wreck because of an unhealthy obsession with reading other people’s good news?

The Buddha taught the following to his son Rahula (from “Old path white clouds” by Thich Nhat Hahn):

“Rahula, practice loving kindness to overcome anger. Loving kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return.
Practice compassion to overcome cruelty. Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return.
Practice sympathetic joy to overcome hatred. Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices over the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success.
Practice non-attachment to overcome prejudice. Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally. This is because that is. Myself and others are not separate. Do not reject one thing only to chase after another.
I call these the four immeasurables. Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others.”

I am still digesting this information. So few words that carry such a profound message that is embarrassingly fitting to my current situation.

This is because that is. Myself and others are not separate. Do not reject one thing only to chase after another.

So few words but so much meaning. My skin prickles when I read it. When I mutter it under my breath my pulse quickens.

I’m still not sure how to apply this to my situation, but I know it fits, perfectly. I hope that this lesson will help me relax, focus on the positive and be accepting of this even though I do not have that. 

How do you accept? How do you find sympathetic joy?


One Comment

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  1. myjourney7283 #
    July 28, 2011

    This is so great. Thanks for writing about it! I need to work on finding my sympathetic joy. It’s a difficult task.

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