Do you have the Joie?
I absolutely love these type of mornings.
The temperature drops over night, and the chill air condenses over the warm soil and fog coats the landscape like a fuzzy blanket. The coolness in the air makes that first bitter hot cup of coffee so delicious, and the world waits patiently for my participation.
The morning songbirds trill musically and hunt worms.
Yesterday is washed away and today beckons.
When we were children, our sense of wonder was clear and crisp. Over time, it began to dull, and finally, when we became “fully adult” it only flashed through the methodical haze of our responsibilities occasionally.
When we were young, we could see that the maple seedling spiraling down from the sky, the spiderweb glistening with morning dew, the worm poking its head up out of the dirt— we could see that all of those things were obvious signs that life was awesome. That life was a giant oyster, ready to be plucked from the sea.
Wonder and gratitude are two sides of the same coin. When was the last time you felt either? When was the last time you felt the “joie de vivre” of being alive, that apt French phrase that describes that feeling we get when we are invincibly alive and burning with the contentment of all that is?
When was the last time you exclaimed, “Thank God I am alive today, I have so much to experience!”?
When was the last time you felt compassion and gratitude for that maple tree, the spider, the worm?
We can’t access joie de vivre if we don’t have gratitude. Out of gratitude grows wonder. Out of wonder grows stillness, the kind that allows us to experience life truly in the moment.
Even if we are old, we still get to play in the dirt, we still get to watch the birds hunt, and we still get to eat delicious things. We still get to hang out around fires with friends and tinker with machines and go for walks with our dogs. We still get to read novels by the fire or sleep in our soft beds. There is a lot to be thankful for, constantly.
Really shitty things happen as well. I’m not going to deny that. Life can punch us in the gut, and we learn and move on.
Luckily life is, for most of us, about 99.9% “boring”. The cool thing is that we can take all those “boring” moments and transform them into wonder-ful moments.
When we were young, our natural state of being is to exist in joie de vivre. When we are old we assume that joie de vivre is for the young. But what if joie de vivre is our natural state and everything else is just cultural and societal baggage?
Joie de vivre defies the conventional logic that we should, as adults, be serious and angry about everything.
To be full of joie de vivre is a rebellious way to live — it announces to the world that we don’t believe that life shouldn’t be taken 100% seriously, which is anathema in the circles of ideologies that run the world.
To laugh in the face of hardship and to revel in the beauty of existence is the work of the joyful rebel.
We can’t all be crazy Zen masters drinking sake in the pond…or can we?