It seems to me that the goal of most people is to be happy. We seek it ourselves and hope that those we love find it as well. Happy is an elusive state. At best it is hard to define – what is happy anyway?
As young adults we may seek happiness in alcohol and parties, perhaps even in drugs. We hope to find it in our careers and certainly in the unions we make and partners we choose. Happy is to be pleased, or glad, over a particular thing. The dictionary associates a state of happiness with contentment as well as with the experience of joy. And it also says that happiness is associated with good fortune or luck.
I think the last is very telling about happiness. It says to me that no matter how we live our lives, no matter most of our actions, so long as they are done with good intent, happiness is a random emotional experience.
Even more random is a state of joy. Certainly experiencing joy brings feelings of happiness. For me, however, joy is larger, something bigger than happiness. It is more fleeting and certainly is random and unpredictable.
When I look back over my life, I clearly remember many moments of joy, the birth of each of my children, heart soaring moments of bliss. Even small joys, those that can be found in each day if we are open to them remain fixed in our memories. Moments of beauty seen in another human being, breath-taking glimpses into nature such as a red setting sun, a pounding ocean, or even the small features of a small black beetle.
There have been times for me, when plagued with worry, loss of work, aloneness and fear, that when they seemed to drag on, I found that what made them telling for me was that they were periods in my life entirely lacking in joy. I also came to recognize that it wasn’t what triggered joy that was absent but simply my lack of awareness or openness to see and feel it.
I had one of those times that I remember clearly. It was about this time of year, which is probably what has triggered me to write about it. I was turning cold and the leaves were falling from the trees as they prepared for their time of quiet. I was having a “pitty pot” day. Feelings of doom and gloom and longing already for spring, even though we had not yet even experienced winter. I was thinking about all of these feelings and recognizing how little joy seemed to be in my life at this moment. Walking along, I looked up and right at that moment a beautiful red leaf fell from an ornamental pear tree in front of me. I watched as it gracefully dropped to the ground. As it fell, with pristine clarity, I felt overwhelming feelings of elation and joy! Out of nowhere, and randomly, came the totally certainty that in that one moment – I had found my joy!
One red leaf
Falls to the ground,
Before me a moment of total clarity
And the experience heartfelt joy.
A heart lifted
From the darkness of persistent gloom.
A day brightened
In utter simplicity – one red leaf.
As we enter into this season of festive celebrations, as Thanksgiving Day approaches, let us all remember the joys of the past, those moments that light us through the darkness. Let us give thanks for those perfect moments, given when we least expect them. And let us remain open to seeing and feeling them in the coming days. May we find those moments of joy everywhere!
Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Dianic Craft, Celtic Shamanism, and Feminist Dianic Wicca and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.