Joy Is a Radical Act

I walked with a friend on the weekend. To a park with beautiful ponds, paths, trees, and typically in March, that has oodles of blooming flowers. This year, not so on the blooming flowers. Winter is holding on for an extra 2-3 weeks.

I’m not sure what these Canadian Geese may be thinking on this half-frozen pond. Maybe nothing. Maybe it’s confusion (“I could’ve sworn this was a bigger pond.”) Maybe it’s anger (“Harold, I told you it was much too early to come back.”) Again, maybe nothing. But then, maybe joy (“I haven’t seen the pond this way in years; it feels kind of good on my feet.”)


I’m learning a little extra these days about joy. Joy as a commitment. Joy as a choice. Joy as an energy. Joy as a contagion. Joy as a groove in a multi-layered cake of a universe. Joy as a power. Joy as an invitation. Joy as a natural state.

I’m also learning a little extra these days, a bit painfully, about where I’ve perhaps committed to regular sorrow without knowing that I’ve done so. Sorrow as a protection. Sorrow as a noble emotional state. Sorrow as a default. Sorrow as an energy. Sorrow as a groove. Sorrow as a maturity.


I’m not of the opinion that all of life experience is meant to be joy. Not at all. It is our troubles that often grow and evolve us. It is our rough edges. It is our looped fears that sometimes require decades to begin to see, welcome, and to love. But I am coming to notice how commitment to sorrow (or wound, or grief) can also become an addition. An addiction to limit fear. An addiction to limit further hurt. An addition to protection.


Whenever it is learned, I suppose, is good timing. No matter how many times the learning of joy has beckoned our way when we didn’t or couldn’t follow it, so be it. When that one seed finally finds and celebrates fertile ground, yah, that’s a significant day.

One of my dear and beloved friends is a woman named Sarah. She’s 81 now. One of her orientations that I’ve most held dear and beloved in her is her orientation to joy. “Joy as a radical act.” For many of the reasons referenced above. She smiles when she says it, often. And her eyes reveal a deep knowing.

I’m so glad for these moments of fertility in learning and in loving. That’s learning and loving with and from others. That’s learning and loving from Life (sometime Canadian Geese). That’s learning and loving from within, even when the melt is a few weeks late, literally, or metaphorically in much longer seasonal change.


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