This past month has found me reading too late and starting too early and avoiding house tasks to read a bit more. The energy comes from trying to make my own definition of joy. As a usually happy person, my joy always seems to be a combination of gratitude and happy. I have been reading and rereading The Book of Joy ( not the Joy of Sex that was another decade) with discussions between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. I started it in January after my friend Jeanie gave it to me for Winter Solstice and I pick it up and read and underline and highlight and then think about it for the days needed to absorb the ideas.
As an Extraordinary Elder in training, the aspect of introspection always leads me to the need to read and study what other people think and to ask myself the same questions they have asked. The answers of the two powerhouse wisdom keepers mentioned above no doubt come more easily than mine. And then, in a work of fiction I was reading, a character asks, “what would be essential for you to bring to the house to make you comfortable”. The accumulation of stuff raises its overstuffed head again. How does that impact joy in a human being? I find it interesting that Marie Kondo, who taught the world how to fold underwear in her tidy book, named her second book ” Spark Joy”.
In her first writings she tells us that if an item does not create a sense of joy, get rid of it. While I get a sense of productivity and prevention from my toothbrush it does not bring me what I consider joy….but it does give me a sense of well-being on some level and gratitude that I have it and the dentist has not taken any money in several months.
Great pleasure or delight seldom comes and settles in when an object (even a living one) attracts my attention for a moment. I am happy to see a lady bug, but true joy will be more likely to come to me from the delight of time spent with a person with whom I have a relationship. Sharing the sight of a lady bug with a child would double the happiness and maybe joy for the moment in time with the two of us.
In The Book of Joy, the authors understand that exploring what makes the human experience satisfying is the task they wish to discuss. Please read the book so you don’t have to watch me regurgitate it, but know that one of the outcomes is that the ability to be joyful is work done from the inside out. Possessions and jobs and money and gold bathroom fixtures are not long-term joy producers. As elders we should know that by now, but occasionally get caught up in the anticipated joy of new kitchen cabinets .
The picture at the top of the page is of a baby celebration cake. A library book club to which I belong lost our facilitator to maternity leave this past week and we celebrated the coming birth with a cake and small presents for her. In the room was a sense of joy from our relationships with each other and to her and for being part of the joy she was anticipating. A small example of relationship and community creating a space for felicity in a world that can be full of fear and anger and sadness. But, it came from inside of all of us–even thought the cake was a success, it was the interactions that counted.
May you find joy in your life,