It was just supposed to be a short vacation.
Not a chance to learn yet another life lesson.
It was supposed to be a chance to not work my brain and my heart so hard.
That’s what I was thinking last week as my travel wizard husband pulled one of his miles miracles and flew us off to Costa Rica.
No kids. No worries.
That was the idea.
At least until reality came crashing into paradise.
“Did you hear what happened in Orlando?” my husband asked on the second day, as I woke up from an alarm-clock free slumber.
I reached for my phone and started following the awful events that we all know too well by now.
The young people whose lives were cut short. The hate. The horror.
I took in updates as fast as I could get them.
Alerts from paradise started breaking into my focus on the news.
“Time to take the Barista Class,” my phone reminded me. “Explore the Rain Forest. Stand up paddle board” were on the calendar for later.
As I tried to laser focus on the breaking news, I wanted to swat these fun, joyful experiences away like pesky mosquitoes.
How am I supposed to experience joy when others are hurting?
This wasn’t just a current events question.
It’s something I think about quite often.
What about you, Dear Reader?
Do you, too, tend to be a “Grass is always browner,” type of thinker?
How can I embrace joy when others are hurting?
How can I enjoy my husband when I know I have friends who are single and lonely?
How can I allow myself a vacation when my mother is too weak to travel?
How can I just go play when precious lives have snuffed out?
The list of denying joy can go on and on.
Yet, even as I worry and focus on other’s pain and struggles, I sense I’m getting something wrong.
My thousandth time checking up on the latest from Orlando, it struck me.
One Snapchat video shot by 25-year-old Amanda Aleavar from inside The Pulse nightclub.
It was a 30-second clip. In the last 10 seconds, you hear rounds of gunfire.
Tragically, Amanda would become one of the 49 dead.
It is truly jarring and terrifying.
But it’s the first 15 seconds that also caught my attention.
These young people were dancing until their final moment.
This video helped me realize that it’s not a choice between feeling pain or responsibility or choosing joy.
So dance, paddle board, swing through the jungle because you can.
And do it when you can because it’s one way to help by ensuring darkness doesn’t win.
For those kids on the dance floor, we need to let joy win.