We speak of joy. It’s the treasure that sparkles in the distance.
Have joy, Seek joy, Allow joy
All of these are good, solid mantras, though if you’ve spent any significant amount of time curled up with deep and dim sadness, or its friend, empty heaviness, they are just words. We polish them over in the mind, or mouth them soundlessly, as if they might spring to life through repetition; then they don’t.
For those who’ve never felt joy, or who recognize it only as a thrilling but heartbreaking interloper, the words carry no vibrancy. They lack resonance. If you’ve ever knocked on a piece of dry, weathered wood, the kind that cannot properly carry a knock, then you know what I’m talking about.
For some, joy is as false as a unicorn, or maybe worse, because at least a unicorn can be easily conjured by the imagination. Holding a picture of a unicorn doesn’t stir an entirely huge subset of the population to react emotionally.
A picture of someone experiencing joy holds power. It provokes pause, the holding of breath. One might pull the image closer, and work to capture any tiny clue about its occurrence. Equally, it can drive a person to cast it away as an inauthentic, or even wicked conspiracy theory they’ll never participate in.
For the more ambivalently resting souls, there may be moments of satisfaction, reflection, or observance of beauty. They stoke a warmth, but they don’t last. When a person is filled with empty heaviness, joy is a lost piece of the everyday human experience.
I am learning to fabricate joy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I am winning, and it’s terrifying. Every day, I am nervous that I’m finding bits of joy hidden everywhere. I’m sad, because I’m realizing they have always been there. I’m getting swept up in the conspiracy. Even in the face of our angst and violence ridden times, I am learning to believe in joy.
I wrote my mantra. I carry it in my heart, my mind, and on a sticky note. Seriously, on my desk. I have been engaging in a simple, powerful movement, multiple times a week – I remember to turn my hands when idly sitting or thinking, so that my palms are up. I am reminding myself to stay open to the positive that always feels just out of reach.
I have repeated the words, “Breathe in love, exhale ego, believe in joy,” hundreds of times in the last 6 weeks. I wrote them because they feel right, for me.
These things are helping and I’ve not lost track of the negative – there’s still plenty of that out there.