We don’t need to know everything. In fact, I think it is in the mystery where we experience the most growth. There was a time in my life when I thought I had plateaued in my knowledge. It sounds completely ridiculous to say that now, but there was a time. Of course, that facade came crashing down around me and I learned a lot about myself and that I am not always the pillar of peace. I was livid when it all happened and had very violent fantasies involving nudity, a wolf, a stick, and destruction. When I told my friends about them, they laughed and made jokes about fairies dying when I got angry. Gotta love your friends! It was sobering, jokes included, but it helped me find my true voice. It dared me to be okay with being a perpetual student and I accepted the position.
I recently had a conversation with a nice fella and I asked him what joy looked like. He said plenty, but never answered my question. I even gave examples emphasizing sight. He mentioned how joy is different to each person, he described contentment, the nature of joy, he vaguely mentioned something about a desirable image, but he still didn’t tell me what joy looked like to him. The key verb was look and the most important subject of the verb was “you”, but he didn’t seem to pick up on that. In many ways, I understood. I have been in that kind of hot seat before. I took a spiritual business class and the teacher asked each of us, “What is time?” No one could really answer the question. I remember hearing everyone’s explanation of time and each time they got shot down. It was my turn and I tried to answer the question. Eventually I simply said that I didn’t know…and I really didn’t. I was lauded for my honest answer. My whole mind was twisted and no matter how I tried, I couldn’t find the answer. I later learned that what she was saying was if you can’t really define time, why worry about it. She wanted us to define our moments, for ourselves, without the pressure of time.
Without realizing it, my line of questioning was similar. I asked him this because in our conversation I realized the importance of knowing what joy looks like to us and embodying it. It has been said that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and I fully agree with that. I know that who I am is spiritual (or non-physical). I am that mystery. I also recognize that I came here to have a physical experience and because I do, it can’t be negated when it comes to understanding things like love, joy, and pain. Pain has a look. Love has an appearance and so does joy. Joy has a taste, a smell; it is a feeling. So why did I ask this fella what joy looked like to him?
Truthfully, it was because in all of his pictures that I saw, I only saw one that exuded pure joy. His other pictures had glimpses, but this one was different. It was an older picture of him. He looked relaxed, comfortable, even a little bashful, but joyful. I also noticed that was the picture he seemed to criticize the most. I used to be embarrassed about the pictures of myself that showed all of my gums. When the joy pours out, my gums like to make a showy appearance. So when I asked him the question, I was asking if he could recognize the moments when he exuded his joy. I was wondering if he liked what it looked like when it showed up. Did he like how he was expressing himself? I remember being so joyful in middle school the day I wore my magenta pants inside out paired with yet another original hairstyle I made up the night before. I enjoyed expressing myself even if there wasn’t a rhyme or reason to it. Of course, he may say he wasn’t joyful at all during that time, but that isn’t important to me. It is more important that we all take the time to decide what joy looks like to us and find the ways, circumstances, states of being where it resides and exude it.
Too often we walk around with a serious face. I know I have been guilty of that. During my first year in college, my scowl was a main topic of my concerned professors. I was even pulled into an office about it. They wanted to know what was wrong with me. I was intimidated by the environment because I had never seen that many intelligent people in one place before even though you couldn’t get me to admit it. My sour face was a protection mechanism. Later a different professor and random people on the street taught me the power of my smile and exuding my joy. Joy has changed my life. Sure pain is a part of life, but joy trumps it over and over if you let it. I say, let it pour out into everything you do.
Love, joy and pain are constantly unfolding their truth to us. There definition is never static so it doesn’t make sense to claim dominion over them. Be the student of the present and watch the mystery reveal itself. Love guides it all. So I ask you, my readers, what does joy look like to you? Are you willing to commit to living in it and oozing it out from your heart? In the extremely modified NYC Homeland security slogan, If you see something called joy, show it to the world! <—— That is where your true power lies…
Special thanks goes to everyone who helped me write this post past, present, physical, and non-physical. You know who you are…
Really…What does joy look like to you?