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Thoughts on Easter Sunday: Joy is Possible

This year I’ve been studying at uni.  These thoughts are inspired by an assignment I had for an art subject.

 

Joy is Possible

Even here, even now.  Without lying to ourselves about how awful many situations are.  Without minimising how much death and misery there is.

 

Joy is . . .

Joy is engaging. Engaging with our beloved, a challenge, a situation, an artistic medium.

Joy is vulnerable. We are affected by what we engage with; a change can mean the end of our joy.

Joy is helped by safety. A safe place where we are free to try, experiment, learn, fail.  Being stressed by risk doesn’t make for joy.

Joy is about what is true. Whether the depths of our self, an insight from a joke, or the possibilities and limitations of an artistic medium.

Joy is in all parts of the creative process.  The inspiration, the making, discovering what we want to say or do, and in the delight in a well resolved work.

 

Joy is possible . . .

Joy is possible if we set aside our prejudices and engage with what is before us;

a blank piece of paper and some paint,

a friend,

a difficulty.

 

Not forcing ourselves, but in our own time and rhythm.

Joy means engaging with something. Which means bringing,

our hopes,

our thoughts,

our fears,

our love,

our skill and clumsiness;

our past delights and disappointments,

to the here and now.

Perhaps tentatively, or brashly, or with calm deliberation.

 

Joy is possible.

If,

we will engage with who and what is around us;

by slowing our breath,

and listening,

feeling what we’re touching,

paying attention to what we are seeing, or,

closing our eyes and paying attention to what is happening for us;

then;

Joy is possible now.

 

As always your comments are very welcome in the box below.

I'm Evan Hadkins. To find out how to live a more satisfying life you can download my manifesto on living authentically. It is a book of exercises to guide you to finding, nourishing and living from the core of who you are.

If you would like me to write about some aspect of living an authentic life please don't hesitate to get in touch. There is a box in the sidebar where you can leave a question anonymously if you wish, or you can email me, use the contact page, or comment on this post.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Christine Grodd 2017/04/17, 5:54 pm

    As always, great food for thought!

    My first thought in contemplating your post, Evan, is that joy generally seems to catch me by surprise (maybe it usually does also for most people anyway). I usually find it in things like the delightfulness of a friend’s child; the purring and apparently intense eye contact of another friend’s very old cat cradled in my arms or the intense enthusiasm of yet another friend’s 2 dear dogs; or a surprisingly beautiful day or element of nature (like a smooth rock that’s been rained on or a beautiful fallen leaf).

    My next thought is that a sense of safety does indeed seem to make a huge difference in my being likely to feel joy in any given moment/situation. Well, it makes sense that it would, for anyone! But what interests me about this point is that I’ve suddenly realised that a lack of sense of safety can be *incredibly subtle*, such that I don’t think I would’ve even been able to identify it as such until reading this post, and that therefore I guess we can be feeling unsafe without even realising and and meanwhile that can be getting in the way of feeling joy. This idea has brought to mind the following scenario:

    Just today, my neighbour’s 2 children – one of whom lives next door to me with her mother (my friend) and the other, younger one of whom lives with her father elsewhere and only visits her older sister and mother usually fortnightly – spontaneously popped into my flat. The 10-y-o who lives next door to me often pops by and is always a delight to me. I can probably assume the I feel completely safe with her because (a) she seems to be fond of me and (b) she seems to respect me and my boundaries and seems to appreciate my kindness etc. The 6-y-o whom I’m only met a few times over the last 4 years or so seems “nice enough I guess”, but I don’t tend to feel any hint of joy in her presence. Obviously, time and shared experience builds rapport and I’ve had far less of this with the younger one, but there’s *something else* and I felt it more vividly today (although the feeling was still subtle to me): I almost feel intimidated by her!

    After their brief visit today, I actually found myself wondering if she’ll be a bully when she grows up, even though I’ve never seen her be mean-spirited! In any case, whilst I don’t yet have enough insight into why I feel “almost intimidated by” her and never “joyful” in her presence (which catches my attention because it’s very rare for me to not feel joy around children), it now occurs to me that I don’t entirely feel *safe* with her. As I type this, these thoughts sound ridiculous! She’s 6 years old and I’ve never seen her do anything awful and she doesn’t even seem to dislike me particularly (just “neutral”, I guess). So how could I feel “unsafe” and why don’t I feel joy from her presence as I do from her sister’s presence and that of most children I’ve met in my life, I wonder.

    Pondering this has led me to speculate that something that adds to my sense of safety, without my having been conscious of it before, might be the extent to which I’m generally able to have a “warming”(?) impact on others with my gentleness, kindness and attentiveness etc. I suspect that I have no such “power over” this particular small child and that maybe no-one has. To me (in my limited experience of her), she *seems immune* to genuine human warmth (although of course she wouldn’t actually be); she seems to accept everyone’s generosity etc towards her as a given, in a way that almost makes me wonder if the adults who raise her (mainly her father’s parents) have led her to believe that adults are there to serve her and that is her entitlement. I mean beyond the extent to which I would agree that that’s true & reasonable for any dependent child. I don’t think she respects or cares about others and I can’t imagine her ever feeling vulnerable (huh, what a weird thing for me to think).

    But I hardly know her so this is ALL probably just my own insecurities reading too much into a subtle feeling that leaves me feeling … joyless. So dependent perhaps am I on my ability to make it easy for people to like and care about me! It’s true that as far back as I can remember I’ve been an anxious, highly sensitive person and have tended to be shocked and horrified when someone has seemed to hate me or be angry towards me, so maybe that’s why I only feel safe when everyone around me seems to have “warmed” to me.

    This contemplation (re my recent observation of my unexpected slight lack of sense of safety in the above-mentioned context) leads me to wonder with more interest/curiosity about your last paragraph, Evan. I mean, no doubt it’s easy to identify the sorts of things that we’ve experienced spontaneously inspiring joy in us; not so easy necessarily to consider actively seeking to access joy outside of those obvious, spontaneous situations, i.e. in the context of a challenge or a subtle lack of sense of safety. It has me imagining how things might (or might not, who knows?) be different, in terms of joy, if I were to try to really engage with this child (for example) by trying to set aside my slight discomfort/apprehension and focusing my attention calmly and openly/receptively on (a) who she might be as a person at her core and (b) what’s going on for me (about feeling apprehensive/unsafe/or otherwise).

  • Roger Arendse 2017/04/17, 7:24 pm

    Thanks for your reflections, Evan. I’m taking the liberty of reposting on my Eagle Coaching page. Take care.

  • Evan 2017/04/18, 9:23 am

    Thanks Roger. Hope life goes well with you.

  • Evan 2017/04/18, 9:29 am

    Thanks Christine, those are very interesting thoughts on safety and warmth; and very well expressed.

    As you say, joy often does come spontaneously; and so it is more tricky to deliberately do things that seek it.

    Many thanks for your careful thinking about this.

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