06 Apr happiness vs. joy
This, to me, is a picture of joy. Unbridled. Fearless. It’s an ordinary day, my college roommate and her daughters sharing a mug of tea.
I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness, what it means, how each of us strives for it in different ways… how some avoid it because once we have it, we fear too much losing it. Happiness is too brittle for those who wait, wait, wait for the ax to fall.
But what about joy? Joy to me is something different. It’s a happiness that doesn’t pretend. It’s the opposite side of the coin from pain; it’s the gracious, authentic happiness you feel because you’ve also felt anguish. The happiness you savor all the more, the happiness that is sometimes tear-filled, that aches. You don’t expect joy to evaporate.
The sweet to life’s salty. That thing that pinches your throat when you watch your kids doing something new and amazing, like pedaling a bicycle or rescuing a ladybug from certain death on a sidewalk, or saying “I love you” to the brother who just stole your favorite crayon.
Joy is not ignoring the pain or whitewashing it. It’s not a trite, glass-half-full sentiment. It’s not sealing yourself in a bubble so that you never have to touch your mistakes or your losses or grief.
It’s not perfection. Far from it. Joy is the freedom you feel to be imperfect. Life is a broken, messy thing and yet I’m going to feel joy in this moment, the sun shining on my skin, the sound of my daughter giggling, the whiff of downy hair when my son snuggles under my chin, the cup of tea shared with a dear old friend.