The season of joy appears to be on the horizon; at least, commercials and billboards would have us believe so. The word is seasonally associated with the upcoming slurry of buying things to be wrapped and dispersed with love (usually) and a great deal of stress (most likely).
As the summer fades into a background memory, so does the ease at which its joys reach us: the fireworks, juicy garden delights, or the feeling of beginning a small adventure. At its best, joy is a feeling we aren't even aware of in the moment. At its worst it is a drop we witness dissolving into the river of time. With winter frosting the window behind my doorstep, I find myself looking and grasping for the feeling. However, joy is not just experienced firsthand; it is often something experienced at the hands of another.
As a teacher I am able to witness this daily. For many of my students, the joy is in the losing of daily worries and fears to the process of creation. For some of them, I can see the purity of joy in the craft they excel in. In the waning daylight and emotional-dulling of the season, I find comfort in their everyday exploration of this feeling.
You may also know the joy of watching someone taking part in something they were meant to do. There is a glow, an energy almost palpable to everyone watching this person doing, making, creating, etc. It was a fullness of feeling I didn't expect when I sat in my local indie film theater to watch Jane, Brett Morgen's documentary about Jane Goodall's incredible work and life. How often do you come across someone saying "I was exactly where I was meant to be.", and feel that sentence on their face, radiantly beaming the pleasure of work matched with personality or purpose.
I basked in her glow, beginning some near-sixty years ago and projected now on a small screen. My immediate question after the glow faded was "How can I feel that way, too?" The thing about the lovely and elusive joy, is that if we chase it, "we are chasing a will-o'-the-wisp that ever eludes our grasp." So I change my questions. What accompanies joy? What did Jane speak of and find important? I was reminded in my queries of Elizabeth Gilbert's recent book Big Magic and its wondrous advice for creative living. "Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart."
Joy as a pursuit and a goal feels hollow, just like the glittering facades of holiday sale windows mimic a real and tangible coziness they can't quite pull off. But, joy through wonder, joy through connection and curiosity? Possible, and to me and many others, important and even necessary to live a fulfilling life.
Today, rather than putting my head down to work on promoting my work online or editing photographs and prints (two things which I enjoy immensely, by the way), I felt myself drawn to the simple wonder, connection, and even-yes- (buzzword of the day!) joy of a walk outside.
Where do you find these states of mind? Are they important to you? Let a girl know.