joy

What Makes a Place Feel Like Home?

What Makes a Place Feel Like Home?

"Home is a place where you feel accepted, whether you are Jacob leaving Egypt to be buried in his true home, or a young teen who desires to feel accepted by family and society. I urge everyone to continue to strive for good character and to accept people who may look or act differently. In this way we will all experience home; we will all receive blessings."

~ Eleanor Teweles

The Beautiful Fragility

The Beautiful Fragility

Let it come closer, let it engulf you if it must.
Until there is no division between self and sadness.
Until you cannot call it sadness at all. 
Until there is only intimacy. 

~ Jeff Foster

What Really Gave You Joy

How to Make Origami Paper from Notebook Paper

Stuart Brown in conversation with Krista Tippett, from "Play, Spirit, and Character," On Being, June 19, 2014: 

I don’t want to foster broken bones and concussions and that sort of thing in kids, but an inherent part of being playful is taking risks. What you don't want to do is have the risks be excessive. And the natural history of play in the world, both animal and human, is that persistent play increases the risk of death and damage while it's taking place, but it appears to be absolutely necessary for the well-being and the future of the species.

So it's a conundrum. But to remove all risk from kids' play is to not allow them the spontaneity from within to develop themselves. It's a judgment call on the part of parents. And this is where I have some beef with the media — in that "if it bleeds, it leads" — the perceptions of the levels of violence and risk in our culture are really beyond what the actual risks are, so that a responsible parent feels they can't let their kid be out on the streets in the afternoon and that sort of thing...

I think it's safer for the person who is a player to take a few hard knocks and maybe have a fracture in childhood, than it is to insulate them from the possibility of that. I think that that constricts their psyches and their futures much more.

Any parent with a young child — say a child over three but under 12 — if you just observe them, and don't try and direct them, and watch what it is they like to do in play, and get some sense of how their temperament intermixes with their play desires, you often will see a key to their innate talents. And if those talents are given fairly free reign, if you allow those innate talents to build upon themselves and the environment is favorable enough so that it supports that...I think that then you see that there is a union between self and talent.

And that this is nature's way of sort of saying this is who you are and what you are. And I'm sure if you go back and think about your children or yourself and go back to your earliest emotion-laden, visual and visceral memories of what really gave you joy, you'll have some sense of what was natural for you and where your talents lie. I think it’s pretty important.

Listen to the whole conversation...

This Bungled Joy

"Infinity Mirror Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life," by Yayoi Kusama

Afterlife
by John Burnside, from Gift Songs 

When we are gone
our lives will continue without us

 or so we believe and,
at times, we have tried to imagine

the gaps we will leave being filled
with the brilliance of others:

someone else gathering plums
from this tree in the garden,

someone else thinking this thought
in a room filled with stars

and coming to no conclusion
other than this —

this bungled joy, this inarticulate
conviction that the future cannot come

without the grace
of setting things aside,

of giving up
the phantom of a soul

that only seemed to be
while it was passing.

Life Is Not The Life Of Men

From a Window
by Christian Wiman, from Every Riven Thing 


I saw a tree inside a tree
rise kaleidoscopically

as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close

to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit

that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind

haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision

over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.

Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would

(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man's mind might endow

even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,

that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.


See also:

Very Little Pleasure in Joy

Excerpt from "Joy," by Zadie Smith, The New York Review of Books, Jan. 10, 2013: 

We were heading toward all that makes life intolerable, feeling the only thing that makes it worthwhile. That was joy. But it’s no good thinking about or discussing it. It has no place next to the furious argument about who cleaned the house or picked up the child. It is irrelevant when sitting peacefully, watching an old movie, or doing an impression of two old ladies in a shop, or as I eat a popsicle while you scowl at me, or when working on different floors of the library. It doesn’t fit with the everyday. The thing no one ever tells you about joy is that it has very little real pleasure in it. And yet if it hadn’t happened at all, at least once, how would we live?

. . .

The writer Julian Barnes, considering mourning, once said, "It hurts just as much as it is worth.". . . What an arrangement. Why would anyone accept such a crazy deal? Surely if we were sane and reasonable we would every time choose a pleasure over a joy, as animals themselves sensibly do. The end of a pleasure brings no great harm to anyone, after all, and can always be replaced with another of more or less equal worth.

Read entire essay...

All These Years

For Samantha
by Daron Larson

As with everyone I have ever loved,
I have imagined your death too many times to count,
yet what a gulf remains between my imagination and reality.

Who would have thought to imagine such heat,
the persistent threat of rain, the pink blanket,
or the completeness of your naive trust in us.

One of the things you have taught me
is how easily and willingly I’m able to create
stories of danger and loss in the absence of either.

Let’s not pretend that you were ever a gifted meditator.
Such frequent restlessness and distraction,
even in the absence of verbal thoughts!

But you were a brilliant meditation teacher,
helping me to see that not all of nature’s sounds are pleasant,
and the danger in needing them to be.

You were able to embody focus — demonstrating how
one hundred percent of one’s attention can be trained
on eating, on greeting, on scanning the world through the glass in the door —

and joy,
multiplied by how many of us
returned home to you: 1, 2, 3.

It’s been so long since you could hear
the sound of food hitting your bowl,
or feel the thrill of the flight down the stairs to devour it.

You gave us a glimpse at the origins of language
by demanding — in pained, near-human vowels — permission
to clear the yard of harmless invaders.

We won’t ever be able to forget
how you became each day
the full expression of yearning, of savoring, of exhaustion.

The only thing you loved more than
eating and smelling and chasing
was to shadow us as often and as closely as possible.

All these years,
and leaving you has never gotten
the slightest bit easier —  

not today most of all.

Samantha White (November 11, 1996 - July 5, 2012)We can never express enough gratitude to you
for giving us more reasons to care about this world
apart from our own needs.

Thank you for living with us all these years,
for helping to make a home out of our creaky house,
for never turning down a nap,
and for insisting that it was time for life to begin again every day.

You are alive forever
in the story of our family
and in our hearts.

 

Something Much Larger than Just Trying to Be Happy

Excerpt from What to Remember When Waking by David Whyte:

One of the great theological inherited understandings about an everyday human life is that it is absolutely and completely and totally and utterly unique. These forces, this particular tide, will never ever appear again. There'll be other elements, other individuals, other incarnations, but this incarnation, this threshold that you stand on, these qualities, these difficulties that you bring with your qualities and your virtues, have never been bound together before in such a potentiality. 

I often think that if the rest of creation could actually speak, it would be looking at us wondering why we quibble about the details of living out our lives when everything around us and everything inside us is so utterly and totally unique. 

Lying underneath this great theological dynamic is the understanding that every human being must remember the particularity of their own place here on earth, and their own qualities and the way they take joy and sadness in life.

A good well-felt sadness in life can be just as generous to others as a well-felt joy.

What we're talking about here, in many ways, is something much larger than just trying to be happy in life. Happiness is not a large enough word for the deeper satisfactions that human beings are searching for and will search for and have searched for through recorded time. 

Back into Personhood

"I think this may be very, very important in helping to animate, organize, and bring a sense of identity back to people who are out of it otherwise. Music would bring them back into it into their own personhood, their own memories, their own autobiographies." ~ Oliver Sacks, author of Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

[Thanks, Alex!]

Losing Our Tolerance for Vulnerability

“In our anxious world, we often protect ourselves by closing off parts of our lives that leave us feeling most vulnerable. Yet invulnerability has a price. When we knowingly or unknowingly numb ourselves to what we sense threatens us, we sacrifice an essential tool for navigating uncertain times — joy. This talk [explores] how and why fear and collective scarcity has profoundly dangerous consequences on how we live, love, parent, work and engage in relationships — and how simple acts can restore our sense of purpose and meaning.”

~ Brené BrownTEDxKC, August 2010

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work where she has spent the past 10 years studying courage, shame and authenticity. She is the Behavioral Health Scholar-in-Residence at the Council on Alcohol and Drugs and has written several books on her research.

An Open-Ended Series of Provisional Breakthroughs

From Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch:

free-play The literature on creativity is full of tales of breakthrough experiences. These moments come when you let go of some impediment or fears, and boom—in whooshes the muse. You feel clarity, power, freedom, as something unforeseeable jumps out of you. The literature of Zen, on which I have drawn heavily because of its deep penetration of the breakthrough experience, abounds with accounts of kensho and satori—moments of illumination and moments of total change of heart. There come points in your life when you simply kick the door open. But there is no ultimate breakthrough; what we find in the development of a creative life is an open-ended series of provisional breakthroughs. In this journey there is no endpoint, because it is the journey into the soul.

In my own life, music taught me to listen, not just to sound but to who I am. I discovered the relevance of our many mystical or esoteric traditions to the practical life of art making. “Mysticism” does not refer to cloudy belief systems or to hocus-pocus; it refers to direct and personal spiritual experience, as distinct from organized religion in which one is expected to believe secondhand experiences passed on in sacred books or by teachers or authorities. It is the mystics who bring creativity into religion. The mystic or visionary attitude expands and concretizes art, science, and daily life as well. Do I believe what “the Man” tells me, or am I going to try things out for myself and see what’s really true for me?

Creativity is a harmony of opposite tensions, as in lila or divine play. As we ride through the flux of our own creative processes, we hold onto both poles. If we let go of play, our work becomes ponderous and stiff. If we let go of the sacred, our work loses its connection to the ground on which we live.

Knowledge of the creative process cannot substitute for creativity, but it can save us from giving up on creativity when the challenges seem too intimidating and free play seems blocked. If we know that our inevitable setbacks and frustrations are phases of the natural cycle of creative processes, if we know that our obstacles can become our ornaments, we can persevere and bring our desires to fruition. Such perseverance can be a real test, but there are ways through, there are guideposts. And the struggle, which is guaranteed to take a lifetime, is worth it. It is a struggle that generates incredible pleasure and joy. Every attempt we make is imperfect; yet each one of those imperfect attempts is an occasion for a delight unlike anything else on earth.

 

That Which is Aware

Excerpt from “Making Joy Our Default Setting,” a Buddhist Geeks conversation with James Baraz (October 18, 2010):

“If you’re just thinking you’re supposed to be skipping through a meadow in slow motion like a commercial, you’re missing out on what life is about. Truly happy people are not happy all the time. They’re engaged, they’re here for everything through the ups and downs. If you’re going through loss or you’re going through a hard time or you’re outraged about the state of the world, then you’re human. If you don’t go through those things, then you’re probably living in incredible denial…

So, when you’re feeling anger or you’re feeling loss, suppose somebody close to you is sick or dies or you get some scary news or a change of circumstance, to not be afraid to go into them. This is the key, this where you can feel the suffering and hold it with a wise awareness. Where you process it directly and say, ‘Oh, this is what fear is like. This is what anger is like. This is what sadness is like.’ But that which is aware of the sadness is not sad. That which is aware of the fear is not afraid. The awareness can hold it all. So, it’s a matter of really understanding how to work with our sorrows and our fears that really is a path to joy.”