I realized that while eating a meal with a dear friend I’ve made here in Europe. As we were about to start the meal, our last meal together for who knows how long, I was feeling many different things:
- Thankful for the time we’ve had together
- Thankful for the banquet of food
- Sad about it being the “last meal”
- Appreciative for the fish that gave it’s life for our dinner
- Guiltily eager to be moving on to having my own space
- Sad to be leaving a beautiful place near the seaside in Bulgaria
- A little anxious about the unknown, as I still wasn’t quite clear as to where I’d be going next and how I’d get there, etc.
As you can see there were many feelings all happening within me at the same time, some more sad and some more upbeat. What I found though was that I was Joyful, and that Joy was coming not in spite of those potentially contrary emotions, but rather in a way due to them. It’s not at all like sadness or anxiety are Joyful feelings, but it was my presence to them all, to all of those feelings and more that I listed above, that actually brought on the feeling of Joy. It was really the “awakeness” of that moment that was Joyful. As that feeling of Joy arose, it didn’t displace the other feelings, but was more like it existed alongside the other feelings. As I think of it now, it was really the awareness of these feelings that brought Joy, Scratch that, as it’s not quite accurate – it was my Presence within the awareness that was Joyful. I know that may not make sense to all of you, but there is something very Joyful about just being there, wherever you are, fully paying witness to the moment and all the emotional, experiential and physical realities that may reside therein.
I sat there at the table with a sort of querulous look on my face, observing the oddity of what I was seeing – Joy arising within a complex array of emotions, where Joy doesn’t normally exist as I have known it. This Joy had a certain quality to it. Much like Eskimos have something like 32 different words to for different types of snow and ice, I am seeing many different potential qualities to the feeling of Joy.
In this far from comprehensive “Joy list,” I believe there can be a sweet Joy, a tender Joy, Joyful abandon, completely liberated Joy, celebratory Joy, blissful Joy, and kind Joy. Joy can be unassuming or extravagant, eager or very personal, There is also a communal Joy which is very distinct from Joy that only comes within the beauty of our aloneness. Indeed there is also a Joy which arises from within the very love that we feel.
What I experienced here, and so what I’m writing about, is simply the Joy that comes from awareness, from being awake to our lives within the moment. I’m not saying that I’m always residing in that place of awareness. In fact, I’ve been walking around in the past day largely noticing more acutely that it hasn’t actually been there. I’m trying to attend to that as well, to better understand why and when it comes and goes. I don’t want to be too attached to the Joy, but I know I also don’t enjoy my life nearly as much when I’m not so present to my life, which generally comes when I’m living much more in my mind, and much less within the simplicity and “is-ness” of my experience and senses.
(note: for those of you who find these posts from my Facebook wall, know that I don’t always post the links to my writings there, maybe half the time really, so if you are interested in following, I have a link to the blog on the left side of my FB page so you can always check for new postings that way at your convenience).