A joyful interlude

 

I don’t normally take part in challenges, my muse is too slippery for that, but when Alethea Kehas over at Not Tomatoes challenged me to write about the word joy it seemed serendipitous, because it is a word that I’ve noticed myself using increasingly often.  Thank you to Alethea for inviting me to take part in the #3.2.1 Me challenge, which involves writing about the chosen word and including two quotes, before nominating three others to take part.  You can visit Alethea here to find out what she made of the word inspiration, but for now, here is a brief joyful interlude.

The ridge’s bosses and hummocks sprout bulging from its side; the whole mountain looms miles closer; the light warms and reddens; the bare forest folds and pleats itself like living protoplasm before my eyes, like a running chart, a wildly scrawling oscillograph on the present moment. The air cools; the puppy’s skin is hot. I am more alive than all the world. (Annie Dillard – Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)

Joy has always seemed to me an extravagant word.  Beyond contentment, beyond happiness.  A word for unbridled feeling, for ecstasy.  It seems fit only for big spectacles and life-changing events.  It is not an everyday word.  Strangely, it’s a word I often come across in the negative: ‘no joy’ or a sarcastic ‘deep joy’ to describe someone’s negative feelings about something.  The positive phrases that include the word, such as ‘jump for joy’, ‘pride and joy’ or ‘full of the joys of spring’ are so diluted that they no longer have any real meaning.  Joy in its truest sense seems a word mainly used for Christmas.  And yet I find myself noticing the word more often than I ever have and I wonder why I didn’t feel it was appropriate before.

For me, joy isn’t confined to spectacle or achievement.  It is something I most often experience in those small moment of life that we come to realise are the big moments.  It isn’t about the satisfaction of something gained or done well.  It isn’t about an item checked off a bucket list or an ambition finally reached.  Yes, there is delight in those moments, but for me, joy is something both smaller and deeper than that.

Joy is the delight I feel when I hear my dog dreaming and watch the twitch of his nose and paws.  It is the tilt of his head and the wag of his tail.  Joy is in the wild whip of the wind and the teem of rain.  It is the exuberance of blossom and the shimmer of autumn leaves; the scent of the sea and the crash of a wave on the shore.  Joy is the stab of excitement when I witness the wanderings of a badger or the dart of a kingfisher.

Joy is the feeling of awe at being alive and able to experience this one moment just for you.  When the earth seems to shimmer, to lay our her wares and say, here, this is what it is all about.  It is the moment described by Annie Dillard of being so clearly in the present that no matter whether you are at a gas station (in her case) or in the most astounding wilderness, you feel completely alive and completely connected.

In September dawns I hardly breathe – I am an image in a ball of glass. The world is suspended there, and I in it.  (Nan Shepherd – The Living Mountain)

I can feel joy even when I am sad, because, for me,  it isn’t about happiness.  It’s about awe and it’s about connection to the earth.  When I feel that I am a part of this earth, when my skin seems to tremble from being in the world, then I feel joy.  Then I know that my daily worries don’t matter, that what does matter is being a part of this.  I am coming to grips with joy.  Coming to know that it is a word that does fit into my world after all.  It isn’t too extravagant, because there is nothing more extravagant than this world.  It is not a word only to be sung out in carols or written on cards at just one time of year, it is a word for every season and the quiet wonders that each one contains.


I’ll pass on the challenge to: Jeanne at, StilladreamerLuda at PlantsandBeyond and Pat at Equipsblog but you are under absolutely no obligation to accept.  If you do, the word is ‘vision’.  Write about the word, including two quotes and pass on the challenge to three other bloggers.

 

 

 

77 thoughts on “A joyful interlude

  1. I completely agree with you, Andrea.
    I have come to think of Joy as an emotion that can’t be manufactured, or worked towards.
    It is that spontaneous response you describe, and yes, that feeling of connectedness.
    And the dart of a kingfisher!
    What a great subject …

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I accept your challenge and the implied esteem for being considered. On a short vacation along the Chesapeake Bay. Will post the challenge sometime next weekend. Thanks for the opportunity to use my brain.

    Par

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  3. Oh wow. I never thought of joy like that before. I have always said that I have never experienced true joy. But taken from your description here, then yes, I do in those little moments here and there all day long. You’ve given me much to think about. Thank you for this (as always) beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is most beautiful read of the evening, Andrea. I was saturating every word that you put so skillfully on paper. I was questioning myself, when will I feel the joy again, as I used to before, sigh-and relating to nature and earth is when the awe feeling comes back. All of a sudden I see my name listed for a challenge. I am so grateful. Normally don’t follow the challenges and have to think about my vision, for I have to find joy and my own muse writing about it. Let me think about it for a bit. Thank you my dear writer friend for thinking of me. I will get back to you shortly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I understand about using certain words ”sparingly” – for myself I associate joy with something welling up from deep inside. Like you said, deep joy springs from within; for myself, whenever I am immersed in my beloved mountains of home; or a lingering sunset; or that deep satisfaction of knowing the time spent with loved ones in the moment, is truly quality that will never be replicated.
    Anyway, nice to see your new-freedom and thought process in applying the word ‘joy’ in more (and still appropriate) senses/instances.

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  6. Hell Andrea, I view dozens of creatures through my window; Green Woodpecker, Weasels and many more. I am regularly galvanised, either by their rarity, sheer numbers, or just their blatant disregard for my presence, into a smile.
    Encouraged by your writing, I shall accompany this smile with the thought of that one word; joy.
    Keep well, and have a joyous day.
    Mick.

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  7. Perhaps we have stripped this joyous word of it’s meaning with indiscriminate usage. Thanks for reminding me what joy is worth having. Would you believe, it is nearly an enlightenment to me, and a joy, to realise that joy is what I have been missing from my life of late?

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  8. Andrea, it is such a gift to share in your sense of joy. Your description was simple and profound — I agree that joy is smaller yet deeper. It is for me, a very illusive thing these days. Thank you for reminding me of ways to acknowledge it and hold onto it.
    And I love the badger! Hugs on the wing!

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  9. Joy reminds me of Gerald Manley Hopkins’ poem God’s Grandeur and the line “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things”. To me it is pure gift in connecting with this world and its endless wonder.

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  10. Beautiful post, Andrea, wonderfully expressed. Joy for me comes in the small moments when I see something beautiful, or in the company of children who live life in the present, unfettered by the baggage the rest of us bear. Life is so precious when we pause long enough to realize it.

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  11. ‘Joy is the delight I feel when I hear my dog dreaming and watch the twitch of his nose and paws.’ That’s IT; the perfect explanation of joy. I am glad you are getting to know joy a lot more.

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  12. It’s been a joy simply to read what you wrote, Andrea. All of what you said resonated with me and I felt the pure pleasure of just being alive. Thank you for sharing your thoughts . . . lit up my day.

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  13. Beautifully said, Andrea. Based on your definition, methinks reading your writing brings me moments of awe and joy.
    Mind you, I could use some extravagance too, because it speaks to moments of wild, unrestrained happiness that I’ve lost.
    Yours joyfully, sincerely and wanna-be-extravagantly,
    Cynthia.

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  14. I love this one, Andrea! I think the word “joy” is so beautiful that just saying it can produce it within. Your photos have brought me joy today, as well as your words, your writing style, which seems to produce joy each time!

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  15. Thank you, Andrea, for including me in this, especially for the word `vision.’ Forgive me for being so late, but I will respond, and as soon as I can. Bear with me … hopefully, someone other than you and me will notice when I finally get there.

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  16. I love your perspective on joy. I use it quite a bit in terms of writing–to write with joy needs to come first. I’m not sure there is another word that quite measures up in the same way. Feeling joyful in the small moments helps us to feel joyful in the big moments, like seeing our dogs dreaming, as you say. 🙂

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  17. How well you’ve dissected the word. “It is something I most often experience in those small moment of life that we come to realise are the big moments.” For me too, joy if felt in the quietest of moments when I am fully in the midst of nature, able to abandon myself to the convoluted, surprising workings of our planet.

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  18. I am going to try to watch for those moments of joy. I have felt exactly as you have–that it’s a word for Christmas–maybe specially for Christmas cards heh. But the way you describe it, maybe it’s what I’ve been feeling all along!

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  19. Joy is a strange thing, for me, it is something that seems intangible until its passed and I realised that was the moment. Joy is subtle, looking out from the top of a hiked mountain is a great feeling for many reasons but sitting and watching the trees and the rain, that’s more like joy.

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  20. I haven’t felt that joyful of late as I’ve run out of energy, hence me not being around online that much, so it’s a real tonic reading your take on this challenge, Andrea. You’ve reminded me of the sort of things that can make me joyful and still do in small snatches. Definitely my dog is a daily joy. The peace of night is a joy, when I stand out in the garden looking at the moon and stars and hearing the call of an owl coming from the woods, and there’s no more daytime noise such as building works and traffic to distress me. I know you’re right about living in the moment, but if most of your moments are seen through a brain fog, you can only wish for a future in which that fog has lifted and you feel revitalised. Now what can I see out of my window at the moment? …Beautiful flowers — huge red and yellow begonias, anenomes, busy lizzies, and some puffball woodpigeons. Now that’s a start…

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    • I’m sorry you’ve been feeling like that Sarah – I don’t know about your offline life, but you’ve certainly had a very busy few years online and with your books so maybe your body is telling you to slow down. I do hope you can get some joy to help replenish your energy though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, dear Andrea 🙂 I think my body needs slowing down in order to speed up, if that’s not a contradiction. It’s a case of rebalancing my life, giving myself some headspace away from the computer, getting plenty of fresh air and exercise, and working at dispelling my anxiety. This week is a good week, although I’ll be happier when I’ve put some weight back on.

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