Moments of Joy
Do you notice that sudden sense of euphoria? Do you stop; take stock in that experience with wonder and awe?
Well, as I’ve aged (quickly approaching the big five-oh) I’ve learned the importance of noting these moments of joy---when your heart soars, tears prick your eyes, and surprisingly, you hear yourself gasp. These moments deserve acknowledgement. They demand attention, reflection. They cry for us to stop the speedy pace of daily life to notice and be grateful.
I’m going to list a few of my top “moments” for you in no particular order. They seem to be regular enough that I’m familiar, but still surprised enough to bask in the sensation.
- Walking off an airplane, especially after a long flight. I was there and now I’m here. I guess no matter how many miles I clock, I never stop being amazed at my first steps in a faraway land. Even traveling a few states away can give me pause. Two hours ago, the wind blew and my teeth chattered. Now I’m peeling off my jacket, squinting into the sun, how utterly amazing!
- Wandering in a bookstore. You’ve heard “kid in a candy store”? Well, that’s me in a bookstore. Every direction I turn, the titles cry out to me, “Take me off this shelf! I’m here for you!” Ready to share words that will take me to new places and teach me new things. Best of all, books can erase reality, and let me try on a new life from the safety of my chair. All these things a book offers us, so when you’re in a bookstore, well it’s just utterly overwhelming to feel all this joy. I told a stranger at a bookfair last week, that this was my heaven. I’m sure if I were lucky enough to go there, they would have plenty of books.
- Bedtime. You’ve finished driving, cooking, folding clothes, working on the computer, paying bills, keeping track of calendars, and suddenly it’s the end of the day. My favorite moment is when my kids still ask me to tuck them in, despite the fact that my sheer presence is mostly annoying during the rest of the day. For some reason, our kids remember how great we are, and how much they love us, right when it’s time to turn out the light. Sure it’s a ploy to stay up later, but still, I am in awe of this moment! As I tiptoe gingerly toward the usually-closed door, to plant a kiss on their cheeks, I maintain my dignity by not jumping up and down and squeezing them tightly. I casually walk out, turning off the light, then smile at my glorious good fortune. And let’s not forget that this signals it’s “me time.” I’m officially off duty for as long as I can keep my eyes open.
- Nature walk. Let’s be honest, you’re probably not getting out there in the wilderness much these days. I know I’m not. But on the occasions that I do, I never cease to be amazed at the majesty of Mother Nature. It can be a mountain peak a desolate beach, a towering forest, a pond full of lilies. They all take my breath away for a few moments. How can all this be real, I wonder? Best of all, they usually aren’t so far away, and they’re often free. I think I better make my way to a nearby lake, smell the budding flowers and crunch on some leaves.
- A great meal. It can be in a restaurant, casual or fancy. Or at your mom’s house. Italian, or Indian, it doesn’t matter. The fact is it’s always joyous to eat a great meal. There’s something about knowing how much effort, time, and experience goes into the ability to create a marvelous meal. It leaves me in awe of what it took to make this happen. How does a person take ingredients and make magic from them? How far away did the produce travel, how much skill and energy did it require for the farmer, the grocer, the trucker, the cashier, all working together to make this happen on my plate. I think it deserves a little reflection, don’t you? So next time you take a bite out of some really yummy food, stop and think how lucky you are to be enjoying this meal in a place where most of us take food for granted.
So those are just a few of my moments of joy. I’m sure you have many yourself, so feel free to add some here. But the important thing is to remember, to stop, and to notice.