Happiness drops suddenly like the first baubles of rain after a relentless drought. It astounds like the unpredictable tremors of the earth that exceed all expectation, all preparation. Study the jagged lines of the seismograph, in awe of the speed at which the peak is reached, the gradient rocketing skyward. Know that it is not meant to be understood but felt by every shaking vessel. Happiness bursts momentarily like the spark of a match; like lit magnesium it glows and sparkles and illuminates with blinding intensity. It is the swelling of a euphoric, euphonious chorus, the collision of every song that has stirred your heart, a bubbling froth that cannot be contained. And it is whisked away by a slight of hand, the drop of a hat, a blink of an eye. Few and far between are these episodes- so cherish them with all your heart and let it consume you when it strikes.
Sadness sinks its claws into you and likes to sleep under your skin. It strokes your cheek and betrays you. It grows like the vines and weeds of an unkempt garden, snaking around your neck, choking, drowning. It blankets you and lingers like smoke caught in the fabric of your clothes. It is a muted drumming, a gentle pain that won’t let you forget. Sometimes it sets you on fire and burns ever so slowly – but it never quite burns through. It pushes against your organs so you struggle for air, stiffens your back and cripples your mind. It tires and chaffs until there is close to nothing left because it thrives on emptiness and hollow clavicles. It is a disease that tests your strength, your faith, your imagination. Remember, it is a test.
But joy… Joy is contentment. It is a steaming cup of coffee on a cold day, sitting on a roof on a Sunday or at the park on a Wednesday, watching the sun paint the sky and make way for the moon. It is cuddling with a book, your favourite movie or person. It is lying on the bed with speakers next to your ears, letting the vibrations surround you and lift you out of time and place. It is hearing mum’s slippers creak and slap against the floor, and dad’s whistle as he comes home from work. It’s the sound of your grandmother’s voice echoing down the stairs. It’s sitting up before sleep takes you, knowing God thinks I matter. It’s letting life loosen its grip, allowing yourself to untangle and unwind and observe the mess from a distance. It’s there when you’re feeling happy or feeling sad. It is not a passing state. It is a quiet knowing that nothing lasts and that you’ll be okay. Joy is, in other words, freedom.
Where do you find joy?