Last spring I asked people what the difference is between happiness and joy, and I received some great answers. Many people felt happiness was related to external events or personal accomplishment whereas joy was something that hit you unexpectedly, sometimes for no reason at all.
This past week, with the change of seasons and my mind no longer completely occupied with preserving the harvest; I got to thinking about joy again. I came across an old photo album and saw lots of happy times, but one picture in particular showed joy. In that photo, taken a long time ago, my grandmother was sitting with her feet up on a lounge chair in the backyard holding my son, who was just a toddler at the time. He was draped across his great- Grammy’s chest and he had nuzzled into her shoulder and neck. He was totally hers for the moment and she knew it; the expression on her face was one of pure joy. Whenever I think about that day, I remember how totally present they were for each other at the time.
I realize I’m not very good at being still enough, often enough, to allow joy to bubble up from within like that, but I do try, and sometimes I slow down enough to really pay attention to the exact moment I’m in. Today, it happened- the feeling of Zen or peace or just sharing something very special with another person, and it was really unexpected. After running a bunch of errands; at an opening reception for a new gallery, I met a woman who reminded me so much of my grandmother, that when a friend introduced us, I just had to sit down with her for a while. The conversation itself was just small talk, but what struck me was the feeling of serenity that I had sitting there chatting. She was absolutely right there with every inch of her being, and she made me feel like there was no place she’d rather be. I thought, perhaps that is what joy is really about.
I read these descriptions today: Happiness comes from luck or fortune and pleases a person; Joy is caused by over all contentment, soul satisfying incidents and it warms a person’s heart. So, thinking about joy and pondering the place where it’s born, I’m going to the studio tomorrow and see what evolves.