A wee bit of frisson…

Something clicked today…a wee bit of frisson. Not the hair rising on the back of my neck kind, but the crackling of neurons making a brief spark of connection—the spark I’ve been missing lately. The click came while reading Leo Babauta’s blog, Zen Habits. He created a new word, Joyfear, to describe “a mixture of intense joy and intense fear into one ball of powerful emotions that both lift me up and make me see things clearly when I hadn’t before.”

He writes that every single defining moment of his life has been filled with Joyfear. And then, this is what really hit me in the gut…he writes: “Having only joy is great. Having only fear sucks. But having both … that’s life-defining.” Ok, I’m posting that one above my desk. Leo, you really need to make bumper stickers, frig magnets, the works with that line…I LOVE IT! He goes on to finish with this: “Do not shy away from Joyfear. Seek it out. Recognize it when you happen upon it. Joyfear will change your life, and you’ll never forget the moment you find it.”

The round-about way I found Leo’s post today (from chookooloonks) reminded me of the little circle of connection I found last year after reading a small article in the local paper that referred to Chris Guillebeau’s book, The Art of Nonconformity. I looked it up, found his blog and somehow from there found Karen Walrond’s chookooloonks blog (writer, photographer extraordinaire and the author of Beauty of Different.) Through her I found Susannah Conway’s site and blog. Susannah was participating in Reverb 10 and I checked that out. Reverb is an online project that provides prompts for writers—exactly the boost I needed. So I took the plunge to start a blog as a way to share my posts with other writers following Reverb 10. See what a little searching on the internet will get you?!

Starting this blog was a major moment of Joyfear…but it has been so rewarding. I may not have many readers yet, but I’ve made life-affirming connections with a small handful of people…the kind of connections that make me feel less alone when I am struggling to make sense of where I should be and what I should be doing in this world. I don’t know that Karen, Susannah, Leo or Chris will ever read this, but THANK YOU.

You’ve encouraged me to try new things, to examine my life with renewed vision and to share that journey with others. And maybe someone has stumbled across this post looking for direction, for that ah-hah moment of connection, for the courage to step beyond a comfort zone into a Joyfear moment.

Definitely felt a frisson while shooting in a storm at Mono Lake a few years back!

I first heard the word frisson at the Book Passage Travel Writer’s Conference in 2007 and it has stuck with me every since. From the Old French fricon: a brief moment of excitement; a shudder of emotion, thrill. When I’ve been at a loss for words before finding this one, I’ve simply expressed those moments as: “I feel so alive!” I can’t expect to feel this intensity all the time. (And yet I want to—the term adrenaline junkie comes to mind.) When was the last time you experienced Joyfear or frisson?

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