Joy Comes in the Morning

Winter 2014-2015 Milwaukee trip 124- cropped

A little Dave humor

While sneaking in a delicious tree-break, thoughts come of joy and happiness. They’re not the same thing you know. I used to think they were. But I’ve learned they’re quite different.

Happiness is one side of a coin. Joy, on the other hand, is both.

Happiness is ephemeral. It comes and goes, moment by moment, based on externals and tied to circumstance. And ironically, our never-ending search for happiness can lead to a whole lot of pain.

Joy, on the other hand, is a constant, if we’ll slow down enough to feel it. And by that I mean, it’s a deep-down-felt constant, a state of being we encounter when we know and feel and trust that we are doing what is ours to do, to the best of our ability to do it. Walking in a good way. Living in a good way. Being in a good way.

That doesn’t mean we’ll always feel happy when we’re in that state of joy. No, joy is much better than that. You see, joy is an all-inclusive emotion. It can hold happiness, and it can hold despair. It can hold innocence, and it can hold guilt. It can hold faith, and it can hold our deepest fears. Joy doesn’t tell us, you better feel the way I want you to feel, or I’ll disappear forever. No, joy is much too compassionate for that, like a dear old grandmother we may wish we once had. The one who sees all sides of us, loving eyes still wide open, and loves us anyway. Accepts us anyway. Takes us all in, no conditions.

Winter 2014-2015 Milwaukee trip 146

The sand dunes of Lake Michigan, February 2016

That doesn’t mean joy is enabling. Nor does it mean joy is Pollyannish, or good doormat material. Joy can look at reality — and keep going anyway. Joy can look at a flat tire, and accept it, just as it is – while at the same time doing everything in its power to change that tire and keep on truckin’. Joy can go to bed feeling good about the day, knowing it was productive, that it was enough – even when we didn’t get very far on that to-do list.

We can feel joy in our lightest moments. And if we’ll reach deeply enough, calm ourselves and quieten down, we’ll realize that we can still feel joy, deep down in that peaceful, personal place, in our darkest moments as well.

Who said, “if you meet Buddha on the road, kill him”? Well, maybe someone needs to say something like that about happiness. Happiness is a temporary illusion of the senses. Don’t fall for it.

Remember, the truth is out there (or is it really IN here?). And Joy doesn’t just come in the morning: It was there all along, waiting beneath the noise, waiting for us to stumble over the possibility that was right there all the time.

Winter 2014-2015 Milwaukee trip 123

Dedicated to Dave Laur (1965-2016), a good friend who knew a lot about true joy. Thanks, Keith Laur, for sharing this photo of Dave in his most beloved element: Air.


(C) 2016 Mary Batson, All rights reserved.
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