I pulled my ancestor card this morning. It was a nice way to open my day with something to think about throughout the day. Today’s word: JOY.
This past two years living in the Bay Area has involved some interesting self-reflection about JOY. What is joy? Do I have joy in my life? Is it the same as being happy or being content? What does it mean to seek joy? What does it mean to be joyful? Am I joyful? When am I joyful?
I was talking to someone about this once in the last year or so – I said I couldn’t really feel joy. And she said, “How do you know? What does joy feel like?” And as she pushed me to think about it more, I realized I feel joy in moments and in finite bursts. I feel joy when I am reunited with beloved friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. I felt joy when we made it to the top of Half Dome after a grueling hike. I felt joy when my nieces and nephew were born and I got to hold them for the first time.
I don’t necessarily feel joyful constantly, nor do I think I would want to. I’m more apt to look for contentment, a more subdued and gentle form of joy or happiness. Feeling joy all the time holds a bit too much energy for me, which I don’t know if I’d be ready for. Or am I in denial about feeling too much joy?
Interestingly, I think I feel joy the most keenly when I’ve been in a time of challenge – hiking Half Dome, missing my friends, worrying about my sisters-in-law in labor. As with many emotions and states of being, it’s not possible to feel one without having the presence of its opposite. How do you know light if you do not know dark? How do you know happiness if not for sadness? How can we know joy if not for sorrow?