Mark Ballard

Can you see the joy?

Mark Ballard holding the wreath of joy he created. Members of the audience saw it differently, depending on the placement of the letters, and their perspective.
Mark Ballard holding the wreath of joy he created. Members of the audience saw it differently, depending on the placement of the letters, and their perspective. Special to The Telegraph

You don’t have to go far to experience the turbulence encompassing our country and world. It radiates from our televisions, radios and social media sources. It is the topic when we gather with family and friends. It is hard, if not impossible, to block from our daily lives. It has a way of bringing us down.

I try to avoid all the noise that tries to envelop me on any given day but sometimes I find myself being sucked into the negative cloud of a seemingly out-of-control world. Without even realizing it, this negativity buzzing around us takes a toll on our spirits and slowly erodes our happiness. With Christmas right around the corner, we need to be careful not to lose sight of joy.

Recently, I was gathering elements to construct a Christmas wreath on stage before an audience. During my search, I came upon three large letters that spelled the word “JOY.” Bright white, flocked with faux snow and outlined in bright red, these three letters spoke to me, so I purchased them. I planned the rest of the ornaments and ribbons around this short word that has a huge meaning.

If it wasn’t some form of red and white, it didn’t make the cut to be a part of this wreath. I was finally satisfied with all the components I chose for this wreath and packed them away until showtime. I was very excited about seeing it come together on stage. Several times prior to my presentation I considered the placement of the three letters to make the best use of their size and meaning.

Looking at the empty wreath as a circle, I opted to allow the letters to be placed clockwise on the wreath. I assumed that since that’s the way we read the numbers on a clock, that’s the way we would read the letters that spelled “JOY.” Without hesitation, that’s exactly how I placed them on the wreath.

When the wreath was completed, I turned it around to show the audience. Everyone loved it, but several people thought the J and the Y should switch places. They felt it was hard to read. Most of the audience disagreed. I liked it the way it was but then doubted my placement.

“Surely, you can see the “JOY?” I asked the audience from the stage. Most every head nodded indicating a confident “yes.” But others said no. The crowd departed but the doubt in my mind stayed with me. Back and forth I went trying to visualize the difference. I finally decided to change the two letters around even though it went against my grain.

The rest of the afternoon my mind kept going back to the question I had earlier asked the audience about seeing the joy. It reminded me that people experience things in different ways. Just as with the wreath, each of us probably has a different perception of joy. What is joyous to some may not be to others.

With the holiday season upon us, I think the most important thing is that we allow ourselves to experience the joy that comes with it. We can’t let negative thoughts and surroundings rob us of our joy for a single second. Let’s all make a promise to ourselves to resist the negativity and reach out and grab some joy.

Joy is contagious! Once we have it, we can help others to find it as well. It can be given away and doesn’t cost anything. We don’t even have to shop for it or wrap it in colorful paper tied up with a beautiful bow.

I’ve always said we learn life lessons in unusual ways. This time my lesson came in the form of a wreath I was creating. We all need to ask ourselves a simple question. “Can we see the joy?”

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Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email; follow him at creates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.