Reach for Joy! Those were my thoughts on waking up today. Reach for joy. Good thoughts, and then I started questioning what that means. Am I not living in joy, why do I have to reach for it?
We all have different philosophies of life or simple ways we live as humans. We come from rich backgrounds, sometimes full of war and turmoil, sometimes full of peaceful living. I think of two friends whose lives are peaceful and happy today, yet in the very recent past, one’s home island was split between two countries and the other’s country was torn apart by civil war and death. Both of these women choose to live in the United States; so I imagine their joy is defined differently from those of us who have lived here all our lives. They create joy every day.
I think of the Greeks and their gods and goddesses and what they embody as archetypes. Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, shows up all over our lives in jewelry we wear, in the clothes we choose, in how we live in our homes. A lesser-known goddess, Euphrosyne, is the goddess of good cheer, joy and mirth. She must live below the surface of our daily lives and pop up when our lives merit her. She rides in Joe’s golf cart each Thursday when he golfs with his buddies. They have fun, laugh and share stories. Joy!
Let’s consider joy today as an idea.
Can you think of times when you have had no responsibilities, you feel healthy, you have time to yourself and the weather is good, you may even be visiting someone, and you feel happy? This is joy.
Consider you are pregnant, and you have wanted this for a long time. Or you have met someone you care about. You finally have the most perfect job you want with people you like. Or you have decided to live your life to the fullest as children are not in your plans. You have just bought a house and have space to move around. It may be small but it’s yours. Or you are planning a family reunion and finally seeing cousins you haven’t seen in years, people you love and want to see again. You could be traveling back to your home country where you left as a tiny child, escaped barely with your life and will meet your grandparents again. These are all large life experiences – all can bring many emotions, particularly joy.
You might live in a place where you walk outside with your coffee or tea and greet the day as the sun rises; you welcome the wind on your face, and you are grateful for being part of Mother Earth.
We are a huge mixed group of people in the United States. Many came as immigrants, others as pleas for asylum from deadly regimes. Others born here of parents who came across the border illegally and grew up only knowing the United States as home. Their idea of joy is living without fear, knowing they are safe, and no one can yank their safety away from them.
I feel sure my granddaughter was joyful when she turned one year old and dove into a piece of chocolate cake with icing all over her face. Her eyes lit up and both hands were squishing the cake in her fingers and planting icing on her lips. Some made it to her mouth.
We live with joy in our beings. Joy comes up from within; so what part do we play in creating it? It might seem a struggle to bring joy into war or find it when you think your world is falling apart. It often takes courage and strength. It may be a small beam of light that crosses your path as you go to the store, or a friendly smile from a neighbor putting out the garbage cans. But the light is there. It may be a song you hear on the street that reminds you that you love to dance and you do a quick two-step as you move along. I think it is always in us, sometimes hiding, trying to push up through our days. It is worth noticing joy when she visits. And worth valuing it every time you feel it.
If you look carefully, you can find it. Hum the Itsy-Bitsy Spider several times. Your mood will change. Stand on the sidewalk and look at the trees you can see. Give someone a hug without any expectation of anything in return. Be kind, it costs you nothing. This you know. You will feel your inner joy and know it is there. It’s a good reminder for me. So, reach for joy today.
I’ll be reaching with you.