Happy, content, brimming, sparkling. All that jazz. Just those moments where I'm suddenly hit by how GOOD life can feel and think sunshine might burst out of my pores. Sometimes it's when I'm on my way to meet up with friends I really care about, sometimes it's during a life phase when I feel passionate about my career and am working someplace that feels like a good fit, sometimes it's when I'm on my way to a service project I'm pumped about, sometimes it's just as simple as being happy it's Friday night and I have something good to watch on Netflix.
It's like a feeling that no bad things (exist though they may) can bring me down, for a few minutes or hours, or days if I'm lucky :)
I've had several of those moments lately. Just while I'm driving down the road, or as I've settled in at my new job, or when I'm looking forward to a couple upcoming small weekend trips (or daydreaming about bigger travels I've yet to plan down the line), or when I'm texting with friends I care a lot about and giggles are bursting out of me in public places.
But when I say life feels joyous, I actually don't mean "devoid of conflict." Maybe I just mean...whole.
I read this quote once that I love, about how overall happiness/joy isn't the absence of pain, but rather the conglomeration of ALL emotions. And yeah, having anger/betrayal/sadness/grief as elements of my life now and then can mean bad days or afternoons or weeks sometimes. But that's just a part of the whole.
Look, I found the quote:
“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that – I don’t mind people being happy – but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying 'write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep,' and 'cheer up' and 'happiness is our birthright' and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position – it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say 'Quick! Move on! Cheer up!' I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word 'happiness' and to replace it with the word 'wholeness.' Ask yourself 'is this contributing to my wholeness?' and if you’re having a bad day, it is.” -Hugh MackayIn those moments I described at the beginning, the ones where I am overwhelmingly content, it's not so much that all things are inherently GOOD – it's more that things are FULL. It's like there are all kinds of different emotions running through my veins and just pumping me full of life and all its many facets.
Because for every ecstatic phone call with a dear friend that sloshes me full of happy giggles, there are also more days than I'd like lately where my health has been less great than I want to be, or my body has random aches and pains that I wish would heal up already (I'm looking at you, creaky achilles tendons). And for every "my new job is amazing so far" moment I've had this week, I've had handfuls of sadness for a boy I miss very much but feel like the decision to do anything about it is out of my hands. So I put down the phone and say nothing when I want to say everything, and try to quiet the inevitable "what other girl does he want more and what does she have that I'm lacking" voices that flood my mind on long nights or quiet mornings. I am certain you all feel me on that one, because we've all been there. It's a rotten part of life but it is life. I know this. So onward the little heart marches, with trust that, like other letdowns before, this one will also pass eventually and just be a dot back along the road.
My point is, life is not perfect. It's not flawless or without hard emotions, and it has required hard work and risk and patience from me to get several of the best things I have going for me right now. My life is incredible and blessed and lucky in so many ways; I'm not naive to that when I read the news or books about other peoples' struggles and life situations.
But mostly, my life is FULL. And my life is HONEST. And to me, that adds up to joy. Cracks and crevices and pretty parts and all.