A short Treatise on JOY, Part II; What can it be? (What is this yearning burning in me?)*

JOY; The capacity and experience of fully engaging with and experiencing life in all its variations. There is nothing in there about life being particularly pleasant. This is apt I think, as it allows Joy to touch – even encompass – sorrow. In my experience the rending of one’s heart that comes from a friend’s death is rarely a separate experience from the heart-bursting experience of love and gratitude towards life for what that person has meant in my own.

JOY then – as I will be addressing it – has two interrelated parts: ‘joy’ and ‘sorrow’. If you have ever experienced joy so commanding that it brought you to your knees and left you in doubt of whether your heart would ever recover, then you probably get were I’m coming from. Likewise, if you have experienced sorrow so deeply that – though your heart was definitely torn in two – you ended up caught between laughing and crying, and not necessarily understanding why! For those who have not been there, I’m not sure how much better I can explain it. It is not an entirely pleasant experience but I recommend it highly, for reasons I’ll address in my next post.

There is one more thing about JOY to which I have alluded but which needs to be more squarely addressed. JOY, in all its forms, expresses the interaction of one’s heart with one’s surroundings. This was the distinction I was making in my August post regarding JOY versus happiness. Happiness is a state of mind more than a state of body. While examples will vary from person to person, for me happiness is sitting down to a good meal; joy is sharing time with good friends.

The root of this distinction, though, I find to be less the activity and more the consciousness brought to bear upon it. One can easily derive great JOY from a well-savored meal while finding only passing contentment “twiddling one’s thumbs” with friends. It should also be noted that what I call Joy should not be confused with the short-term satisfaction of a job completed or a joke told. As an example, in the first article of this series I mentioned a video of “Ode To Joy” played on Theremins. I still can’t think back on that video without smiling, which tells me that it brought JOY into my life. When I’m mindlessly giggling at one thing after another on Meme-Center? Maybe not so much.

*Translation of “Voi Che Sapete” from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

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