Being an adult is serious business, caring for the body, tending to our emotional and spiritual needs, taking care of others. And one of the first victim of this “maturity” is joy.
What happens to delight?
The American way, is to attain happiness by pursuing it. The “pursuit of happiness” is after all described in in the Declaration of Independence as our inalienable right.
Joy on the other hand cannot be pursued, it enters on its own, unless we stop it.Is joy only the province of infants toddlers and children? Does the experience of joy begin to retreat with the onset of hormones?
Being human, while our inalienable right is pursuit of happiness, our inalienable fate is to also endure periods of suffering and profound disappointment. And in those times of deprivation, we realize that our dreams of salvation and transcendence through happiness and well-being, is not a very effective armor against the surprises of life.
And when grief overwhelms, well-intentioned bromides don’t comfort. Happiness flies out the window and the only rational and non-corrosive response to tragedy can be a river of tears.
In this unlikely soil, joy can reappear.
Whereas happiness is contingent, joy is ineffable, more a gift of the gods. Never the result of effort, it is grace.
Joy is not so much experienced mentally as physically, a vibration that fills the torso and wells up with a profound sense of delight.
Joy permeates the known world with the grace and ease of wildflower, as common as it is often overlooked and uncelebrated, mysterious as the animating force of breath.
It cannot be held on to by force of will. Like contact with the divine it can be elusive, yet its nectar calls to us.
Failure to be happy is not a character flaw, but an opening to a deeper connection.