Finding Joy in the Yuck

Thirty frickin’ more days of social distancing. Really?

The other night, we learned that we were going to have to live in our new norm of social distancing and shelter-in-place for at least another thirty days. I have to admit, these were not the words that I wanted to hear.

Stress is getting higher in our communities. You can feel the tension in the air with families trying to figure out how to navigate working from home, shopping safely for groceries and basic needs, and helping their kids through this difficult time. It can be overwhelming at times. How as a community, as a country, or as a world can we possibly find joy in the middle of all of this yuck?

Well, this past week, I did, and I’m so thankful for it. Here are two quick stories for you.

Three years ago our son, Kolby, was diagnosed with childhood apraxia and autism. Now, as parents of an almost-five-year-old, it’s not always easy, and frankly, there are a lot of tough days. However, this past week as we leaned in to our new norm, Kolby and I went for a walk that gave me some perspective.

As you can tell in the picture, Kolby took his magical wand (that he stole from his sister), and his sword (a gift wrapping paper tube) on the outing. Throughout our two-mile walk, Kolby was his normal self as he greeted everyone we passed. (He thinks he’s the town mayor, and someday he will be.)

He shouted an enthusiastic “hi” to the two middle-aged guys sitting safely apart drinking beers on their driveway and to the brother and sister who were writing chalk messages on the sidewalk. That got a huge wave.

As we explored the neighborhood together, it occurred to me that this isn’t a new norm for Kolby. This is just another day in his life. I don’t always know what he is thinking, but I know this: He was so filled with joy that day that it put smiles on everyone’s faces around him, especially mine.

Now, let’s talk about Hobbs, otherwise known as Hobo. Hobo is nine and has a huge passion for life. He’s the son of our very dear friends, Kathryn & Ryan. Hobo is on the autism spectrum and, for the most part, is non-verbal.

This past week, Hobo faced a bit of a crisis when the local Walmart ran out of his go-to meal-in-a-box. For any of you who have children on the spectrum or have picky eaters in your house, you are well aware that it’s been difficult to find some items in the grocery stores. Hobo’s favorite food fell into this category. His favorite meal (the gluten-free Stroganoff Dinner Kit from Walmart) was nowhere to be found. After seeing Kathryn’s callout on Facebook, Carla and I called in the troops. After a few social media posts and a few phone calls, we were able to get Hobo several boxes of his favorite meal that can tide him over until their next big shipment comes in.

Both Kolby and Hobo have a very special place in my heart and have become heroes for so many of us. More importantly, they’ve reminded me of three powerful life lessons that I needed to hear during this challenging time:

  1. Remember to look through others’ eyes in difficult times. You just might see something different.
  2. We can still have hope in humanity. Though we might be different and not agree on everything, we still need each other.
  3. Find something or someone that brings you joy today, and celebrate it!

And, remember what I said last week:

Be you, live generously, and embrace all the humans around you like they’re family.

Love you guys!

–Shawn Nason, Your TruthTeller