From Paris to Madrid to El Camino de Santiago: Finding Joy

Staying in Paris for a week at the beginning of this journey was a great decision! We met wonderful people, saw amazing sites and had the best profiteroles ever!

We left Paris to go to Madrid, arrived there  on Friday and saw the Royal Palace on Saturday. In Paris, everyone was taking selfies, especially in the Louvre. In Madrid, photos are not permitted in the Royal Palace or the Prado Museum. I imagine that’s true in many other places as well. Our art historian guide at the Prado Museum was very knowledgeable. We learned about a few select paintings, rather than trying to see too much, which was great.

Goya is one of the great Masters whose painting we saw. I had seen some of his earlier work. Today I saw his “Black Paintings “ and heard about his later work. Goya experiences a great deal of tragedy. Seven out of 8 of his children died. His wife died. His “Black Paintings “ he painted at his house when he was clearly depressed and filled with anguish. He later found joy with the birth of his grandson. 

I’m currently reading “The Book of Joy”. It’s a conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams.  Douglas Abrams asks the Dalai Lama why, after he had been exiled for so long from the country he loves, he is not morose. The Dalai Lama did not understand the word. In Buddhism, there are only a few words to  describe emotions. The word morose had to be simply translated to sad. 

The Dalai Lama didn’t understand the question even with the translation. He answered Archbishop Tutu by saying essentially, “I’ve found so much joy because of and with my exile. Why would I choose to be sad?”

I’ve read a bit more and am learning about the need for mental immunity. Just as we protect our physical health, we need to protect our mental health. The Dalai Lama talks about how we choose to think negatively and with anger. Letting go of this choice helps us develop more mental immunity. 

I have a colleague who practices contemplation. He is a gentle soul. He experiences anger, frustration, sadness, joy, etc. He does not hold negativity and anger for long. I experience him as a person who is content. I invite you to find a way to develop mental immunity and live with joy!

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