|This is the four-mile trail from Sky Camp to|
the beach, a hike we refer to as The Death
March - it's even more lovely than it looks.
I'm not much for "please comment!" or "please share!" but this post is a little different. You see, I'm doing research, and I need your help. I need to know:
What brings you joy?
I've just come down from four days in the shocking beauty that is the Point Reyes National Seashore, and while I was up there, wandering around in the glorious sunlight (watching baby quails fluffing themselves in the dust, ospreys diving for fish, hummingbirds in the sticky monkey flower, bunnies hopping, fawns with big ears staring at me through the underbrush...what joy) I did some thinking. (Like you do when you've finished the only book you've backpacked up with you and there are about eleven hours of daylight left to ponder in.) And one of the things I thought about was - okay, so this Museum of mine. You know, it's really time to get started on that. And I know what I think about joy, but really? I don't know what everyone else thinks. But if I want to really start laying the foundation of a museum dedicated to joyousness, I'm going to need to learn a lot more about joy. So, ladies and germs, it's time to do a survey. It's TOTALLY SCIENTIFIC AND STUFF! by which I mean it's not, even a little bit. It is, however, very simple.
See, we spend a lot of time in our lives thinking and talking about the things that give us pain, or irritate us, or frustrate us, or anger us. (Well, some of us do. Others have a hard time even talking about that.) We don't talk much about the things that really deeply move us. Things we like, sure, and even love - movies, food, our partners, the great game last night, the new car we bought, what the heck ever. But take a second, if you will, to think of the last time you actually talked about a feeling of deep joy. Maybe you've had a feeling like that recently? I hope so, of course. But I don't mean just expressed joyfulness, or mentioned a joyful moment. I mean talked, really talked, about joy itself. Have you ever rhapsodized to someone about the smell of the garden in the early morning, a sudden moment of light in a rainstorm, the intense wild feeling you get when your lover looks at you with a little secret smile for no reason at all? Again, I hope so, of course. But it's been my experience that people are hard-pressed to find a forum in which talking about joy seems right and good. Sometimes it's just that the language doesn't come to us - the feeling can be so strong that it overwhelms words, and trying to put your finger on it can be more frustrating than rewarding.
But more often, I'd say, it simply doesn't seem appropriate to say, you know, sometimes, I walk outside at night and I see the lights of the city and the rain coming down and I feel this crazy vastness in my chest like maybe the world really is a miraculous and beautiful place after all. Or whatever it is for you. Because what's there to say to that? Yes, me too, or huh, I have no idea what you're talking about. And this, I think, is a great tragedy. Because joy is one of the deepest and most vivid of emotions, and one of the few we get to have that makes us think that being alive is worthwhile. And there's a lot of darkness out there, a lot of hopelessness. It's ever more important to recall to ourselves why it might be a good thing that we're here on this little blue rock. We can connect through our joy as much as through our suffering - but we have to be able to talk about it first.
And so I want you to talk to me about joy. If you comment on one post of mine, ever, let it be this one. I'll give you some questions you can use to spark an answer if you want - or just tell me about joy in any way you see fit. Take this moment to really dig deep into yourself. See, if you would, how intensely you can recall the sensation. It can be as simple as a certain moment of noticing the light, or as huge as the birth of a child. Just be totally honest. Don't censor yourself. Write it however you need to - poetically, plainly, stream-of-conscious, a whole story if you want, or just a few adjectives. Quite someone else if you have to, though I'd rather have your own words if I can. I want to know where joy lives in your life, whoever you are, whatever is true for you. Just leave it in the comments. (If you have a hard time leaving a comment for any reason, feel free to email me.)
What gives you the most joy? Describe to me, if you can, what about it makes you feel joyous.
What's the most potent memory of joy you can remember?
What does the sensation of joy feel like to you?
Fill in the blank: Joy is...
And then I would like to ask you for a favor. If you would, please share this post with friends, family, or the general masses of the internet. You can use the little gray buttons at the bottom of the post to share quickly on some sites, but feel free to spread it far and wide. I want as many answers as I can get my hands on.
I want to collect, here, in one place, the vastest compilation of experiences of joy that I possibly can.
I want it to be ongoing, so if you come to this in a month, in a year, leave your answer anyway. I'll be checking. I will be grateful. I am grateful. Because I want to know. I want to build a Museum that honors your experience. So tell me what it is.