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The need for joy

Recently, I went to see awesome folk trio Levert at a venue local to me. One of the things that had a profound impact on me was fiddle player Sam Sweeney’s capacity to fill the room with joy. His intense happiness in being out and making music with people was palpable. I felt it, and it got me asking when I last felt joy like that.

Like many people, I was badly knocked about by the pandemic, and I’m not really through that because it isn’t over. When you’re in panic/survival mode, joy isn’t really a thing you have time or energy to think about. I’ve spent too much of my life just trying to keep going in face of things that terrified me. There have been times when music has been a joyful part of my life, too. I can look back and see many things that made me joyful, and in seeing them I am aware of how distant it all seems.

I know that joy isn’t a happy accident. It isn’t the case that you should sit around waiting for joy to manifest. That kind of emotional intensity only happens when you invest heavily in something. Joy is something you make. To go there requires open heartedness, trust, vulnerability, confidence, belief that joy can be found. There are reasons I’ve struggled with all of that.

I’m promising myself more time for things that are undertaken in a spirit of delight and hopefulness. I need to throw myself fearlessly and wholeheartedly into something. Ideally into a lot of things. I need to rebuild my faith that investing deeply in something isn’t just another opportunity to get myself knocked down and crushed. There’s been too much of that. I am going to insist that joy is possible, and figure out how to make more of it.

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