Have you ever thought that joy was a term reserved for special occasions like a holiday, wedding, or birthday? While joy is a synonym of “happy” we are more likely to describe ourselves as happy or maybe even more often “okay” than joyful. Let me tell you a little secret about myself. For as long as I can remember I have experienced zaps of joy during the normal day to day journey and have never, until now, claimed this uncommon joy.
As a child I looked up at the sky a lot. I loved being outside. I have a sister that is just one year younger than me and on any given summer day you could find us playing in the dirt and imagining ourselves inhabiting castles, playing with our cats, or lost in the tall trees during a game of hide and seek. When alone I would swing on the swing set my dad had set up in our backyard. I would swing as high as I could, dipping my toes in the clouds’ wispy tendrils. I remember thinking – “why is the world always watching me?” Since I could only see the world through my own eyes, I felt like I was being watched, or perhaps the observer. If I was the observer, the world existed because of me. In some manner of speaking, this makes sense. Our perception is our reality.
During these moments of wonder and curiosity I would feel light grow inside of me. I can close my eyes now and draw these memories forth filling myself with that same illumination. The light I captured ran through my veins dispersing joy throughout. It was nothing short of a rush of euphoria, a gratefulness of being alive.
As a teenager I would go for runs at dusk. The changing colors of the sky melting from yellows to pinks and purples ignited my senses. The air was cooling from the heat of the day and the changing temperature would flutter in my lungs. These reactions to the world and bringing the world inside of me was very visceral. I felt light as air and one with everything.
Getting inside wonder
While nature certainly resonates with me, it is not the only place that I’ve experienced these jolts of joy and overwhelming comfort. As a young adult it would sometimes rise out of nowhere. I could be going about my day, moving through a routine, or visiting with a friend, and a flood of pleasure would wash over me and rest in my bones. I couldn’t help but smile and wonder where it came from. There would be times it would spike very quickly and then slowly disperse, leaving my skin chilled at its departure, yet other times it would stay.
I have only now, several decades into this life, realized that I’ve never mentioned these feelings to anyone, nor has anyone mentioned something akin to this, to me. As I’ve grown used to both its arrival and passing, I trust that it will always come again. I have even named it – everyday joy. I try not to attach myself too much to any one feeling or emotion that I experience, even joy, as I know that everything passes. Yet, there were times when I felt differently and would fear the joy leaving too soon. I wanted to figure out a way to hold on to it, squeeze its power into a bottle that I could open at any time. I wanted to hoard the joy.
Hoarding joy is futile. It is not for me to have or to own, but rather to share. Accepting it, watching it settle within me – but not attaching myself to it – is embracing being. While you may not have fully actualized this joy in yourself either, I do know you’ve experienced it predictably or maybe surprisingly. Let us stay open to its appearance and wonder.