"When I write stories I am like someone who is in her own country, walking along streets that she has known since she was a child, between walls and trees that are hers." --Natalia Ginsburg

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Contemplating Joy


Lately I have been pondering the subject of joy. There are the small things that bring me pleasure; a freshly peeled orange, or a hot cup of dark roast coffee—or getting drenched in a cooling summer rain. As delightful as they are, I have always believed joy to be more steadfast.

If I were to try to explain my understanding of happiness vs. joy, I would say that happiness is fleeting. It is circumstantial. Joy brings soul satisfaction and is foundational. I want to share a few snapshots of joy—and after you read I invite you to comment and tell me----What is YOUR joy?

Joy by the Armful

One evening I was taking care of Lily--2 ½, and her baby sister Idalia--14 months, for the evening. My brother Joe was practicing some piano pieces for a concert the next day. I sat Lily on the big green chair to wait while I went to get her blanket from the dryer. As I was coming back through the kitchen, I could hear thumpity-thump thump coming from the living room. I watched bemused as Lily jumped and danced to the music, eyes alight and a brilliant smile on her face--totally oblivious of anyone else. Moving backwards she squealed with delight as her shadow chased her. She hopped onto the couch and kept peeking over the edge, and laughing as her shadow came and went, I suppose to see if she could catch her shadow before it caught her.

I take care of another little girl—not quite two. Charlie’s joy is her thumb and blanket. Sometimes I will tease her by taking a corner of her blanket and pull it up to my face like she does. I usually get a smile. Sometimes if she is feeling generous she offers it to me. Earlier this week I settled her on my lap and let out a contented sigh. She must have loved me especially that day; she looked at me, and then her blanket—pulled her thumb out of her mouth and offered that to me. I hugged her tighter but gratefully declined.

Who can say what gives Idalia joy; perhaps turning the television off and on—constantly. She wanders around the house smiling and laughing out loud randomly. She is my happy “Little Bit”.

This joy is relational--their joy is my joy—(except for the TV thing). We have our days of struggle too, someone is teething, a bottle forgotten at home, but we see each other through. Hearing their bare feet padding across my floor—or little arms flung around my neck--gives me joy. The pitter patter of little feet may be a cliche—but it works and fills my heart every day—every time.


  1. My son would do that with the TV when he was between 1 and 1 1/2 also. He would squeal with delight at watching it pop on and off while clapping his hands.
    I am an introvert by nature and my joy comes with solitude. I never got into reading books, but I suppose I easily could get lost in a book sometimes. I experience joy by being out in the woods either alone or maybe with a friend. I seldom experience anything equal to the sense of contentment I feel after hiking to a high place and taking in the view. Top it off with a sun rise or set and you have the perfect moment in my opinion.
    -Ed Downey-

  2. Thanks Ed, I enjoy my solitude too--I wonder if contentment is another name for joy? Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.

    1. I think for someone like me, contentment is very close to what some would say joy is. My moods don't fluctuate much at all. I rarely get mad, and I rarely get real happy. So, for me, contentment for the most part is as close as I'll ever get.
      I don't define content as just settling or it's "good enough". Content to me is a warm happy feeling that doesn't go away. With my even temper, the opposite of content would be a foul mood all the time, so I try to find things to make me feel on the plus side of things. It's so easy to dwell on the negative side, and it's such a waste of your life to live that way.

    2. I absolutely agree Ed, I believe joy is an underlying contentment--settling for something is more like complacency. Thanks for weighing in again with your opinion!

  3. Hmmmm..... Every morning as I walk to the garage I realize that I'm walking out of my house that I love, I'm going to work at a job that I love, and I get to come home to a husband that I love. That is joy, and I thank God for it EVERY morning, even though I might have not wanted to get out of bed that day or if work was rough the day before, I realize how lucky I am. Thanks for the post Diane! A reminder to count our blessings - is a blessing!

  4. Thanks for reading and sharing YOUR joy!!

  5. God healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease completely.
    Have well prepared for the family and friends of hot coffee and meal.
    Walk in the sunshine and refreshing breeze to visit family and friends.
    Play and talk and laugh with family and friends.

  6. Thanks Winn'---I am glad you are family!