A joyful moment
Write about your most joyful memory.
Are you kidding me? That’s the essay topic?
I looked up from my paper and gazed around the classroom. I wasn’t the only one more than a little annoyed. We paid good money for these courses. We had certain expectations of the rigor. We weren’t post-pubescent youngsters spending daddy’s money, boozing four or five nights a week and whooping for joy when the professor fed us pablum and expected the same in return. All of us were mid-career, some mid-life or even post-mid-life, adults, searching for a new – perhaps, better – path. Who simultaneously were working full time to pay the bills, including our tuition, perhaps support families and even our own children in college. How the hell was waxing poetic about the most joyful moment of our lives supposed to help us along this road we were climbing? Some of us were trying to become captains of industry…or something similar. Seriously, who cares? Why care? I mean, the fact that we were in this stuffy, inadequately ventilated classroom, studying Intro to Philosophy with 103 other people on a Friday night in January, kind of said it all. What joy?
I dropped my head onto the desk.
Joyful moment…joyful moment…joyful moment…
It was like a mantra, an incessant drumbeat in my mind without any corresponding images onto which I might seize in order to mold them into a meaningful piece of prose for this insipid essay.
Joyful moment…joyful moment…joyful moment…what does that even mean? I mean, Nietzsche would say don’t waste your time, right? We should not be searching for happiness…indeed we should be in a constant state of dissatisfaction that leads us to work towards a goal…and there is always a new goal…or there should be…happiness shouldn’t be the goal or you are destined to lifelong misery…The joy is in the struggle…or something like that. Okay, whatever. What about the stoics? I don’t know. What? Something like if you develop moral values like compassion rather than focusing on events beyond one’s control, you’ll have a life filled with joy. Okay, and?
Joyful moment…joyful moment…Joyful Noise…good movie. Great music…From here to the moon and back, love that Dolly…oy… Lots of joy in the Bible and religious music…Is this about religion? –This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad… Yay! We woke up. Woopty doo. Well, actually… perhaps…
I lifted my head and began to write.
I woke up this morning. My lungs were clear as I took my first conscious breath of the day. I could see the sun’s rays through my window. Though my eyesight is not perfect, I can yet enjoy the beauty of the world around me. I could appreciate the warmth of my blanketed bed, within four well-heated walls in a home I own. I could smell the fresh coffee the love of my life was making in the kitchen and hear his off-key humming as he did it.
The love of my life! I have someone to love who loves me. Who chooses me every day of our lives. And we have a child who is kind, who can take care of himself, who is healthy, who loves and is loved.
I have work that I enjoy. I have time, no, I make time, to write, to read, to paint, to draw. To do things that make me feel joyfully alive.
I woke up this morning. The news was bleak as ever, a shadow, nay, a black hole to suck the life and joy from anyone. But I refuse to dwell on what I cannot change. I cannot control anything beyond myself. Knowing this, I control my reactions, my attitude. My actions.
And therefore, my joy.
I woke up this morning. I greeted the world and everyone in it with a smile. Who knows what burdens another carries? Who knows when the smile of a stranger – or a friend – is just the medicine to spark a joyful moment?
If you were to weave together all the moments of one life, the result would not be a piece of fabric; nay, it would barely be a visible thread. Life is but a fleeting flicker of existence from which we aspire to extract meaning. Ephemeral, though it sometimes feels long and burden-full.
So, why focus on any particular moment when life itself is but a moment?
I woke up this morning. I still perceive myself as a part of this world, this life, with all its imperfections, and I am grateful.
Viewed through the prism of this gratefulness, the whole of my life is a joyful moment.
I have no idea what the professor’s goal was in assigning this essay, or if I met his objectives; but, my spirit was much lighter when I finished than when I started. I looked around the crowded room and smiled, realizing how happy I was to be there.