The beautiful ambush of joy



I’m not accustomed to good days, or to joy – and that’s not a bad thing at all. It means that I don’t expect either, and that I enjoy something wonderful – a gratitude born of quiet humility. That is, when I cease the toil of meaning and striving and all the rest of a day’s potential turmoil and egoism.

They say you can have ‘too much of a good thing,’ but I truly believe that that only applies when ‘good’ is seen as some commodity or other. One can have too much hedonism; too much leisure; too many antique cars or gourmet food. At least, I can. But joy is something you can never have too much of. At the same time, it is not something you can covet. And that’s because it is not something we have manufactured, or can ever manufacture. It is not even something we can simulate, or clone, or manifest in the virtual world, or own.

Joy is not a desktop image or a screen-saver, or the inspiring words on a beautiful poster. It is not purchasable. It eludes our grasping hands.

So what is it?

I believe it is something that is kinetic, made manifest in the fleeting moment when the heart and the eyes see at once perhaps; or when that person’s hand unconsciously brushes yours; or when the geese row along, crying out overhead; or when, stopped for a reason unknown, you feel the snowflake land and melt on your cheek.

I know joy that makes my heart seem to stop: when I look across the table in the coffee shop and notice how intently she is watching the world; when I am struck by the beauty of someone passing by, and know that this infinitesimal segment of time and space will never repeat, and I am alive, simply walking. The sky is there, and the earth supports me, and around me everything is mundane and yet miracle, and I haven’t earned an iota of it. Yet I know that moment of joy and feel crowned, like an angel – a clumsy, striving, loving, fearing creature, touched by joy as if the air has given me a kiss.

There is never too much joy, and yet, if we release ourselves from the bonds of our pettiness, there seems to be a veritable river of it; a river as wide as the day, as deep as the night sky with its teeming stars, millenia apart.

We cannot manufacture joy, but it makes something great of us. We cannot buy it, but it comes to us nevertheless and enriches us beyond articulation.

And still, un-jaded, we must find words to say it whenever it comes, because it is the true gold, to share with everyone.

It was a good day today. I noted some of my joys. And suddenly, more come alive. In fact, I haven’t the time to write them all. Thank goodness for the smile inside. It will remember for me.

I wish you all at least one miracle of joy today, tonight, tomorrow… And I pray, though I am not a religious man, for those who are wretched and suffering, that a medallion of joy will fall into their world, today, tonight, tomorrow… There can never be too much joy…

Speak it onward with your heart. Let it flourish.



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4 responses to “The beautiful ambush of joy

  1. Love reading your experience and observations about joy, Aldous. Thanks so much for sharing them! Many blessings to you.

  2. what a lovely post – i wholeheartedly agree on your definition of joy – and wish you plenty more of it which of course means i just hope you and i and all the others just continue to notice those small but perfect moments.

  3. Aldous I’m so glad I came by to see what you are up to here on your blog. Such a wonderful and beautiful read! You are so good with words and describing things. I felt joy reading this! Really lovely! Thank you! 🙂

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