Joy, the stick says.
I fold it into my heart and mind, thinking about its meaning as a mantra. Joy is such a powerful and uplifting word. Songs featuring joy leap into my mind from gospel and pop charts. Memories of kissing a teenage girl named Joy on her dark porch one cold December night lingers.
Reflecting on joy, darkness parts as I recall holidays spent with relatives. There was one early morning Christmas drive in Pittsburgh when the snow fell through the darkness. Mom drove us carefully through the streets, windshield wipers battling fat white snowflakes, headlights spearing the storm. We arrive at Grandma and Grandpa's house, excited and happy. Joy!
Joy is associated with memories of Memorial Day and Labor Day picnics at Keystone Lake, hot days filled with eating hamburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken, potato salad and water melon. Throwing frisbees around and playing baseball. Swimming out as far as I can go, then floating on my back, bobbing with the waves, the water muffling the sound and the sun on my face. Joy!
Joy is little Rocky leaping to my shoulder and conveying him around our apartment. Joy is whispering to him, "Bug, Rocky," and watching the small cat get excited and stalking a bug. Joy is my many feline friends over the years snuggled against me, thrumming me with their purrs, their eyes closed, their small heads resting on me. Joy!
Joy is cuddling with my wife, holding her as we talk in the quiet darkness, listening to her breathing, feeling her warmth and heartbeat, chuckling and smiling with her. Joy is walking into the house as I come home from somewhere else and seeing my Mom's beaming face and embracing her as she hugs me. Joy is seeing my little sisters grow into women, and meeting their husbands for the first time and meeting their children.
Joy is being at Octoberfest with my friends and raising enormous mugs of beer, and joy is clinking glasses of wine with friends at their homes, celebrating their birthdays with them. Joy is standing with a group of rowdy friends and leading them on choruses of "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" in the middle of a dancefloor. Joy is looking down from an aircraft and seeing the Statue of Liberty and realizing that I'm almost home.
Joy is hitting a home run and scoring a touchdown and learning to play a song on the guitar and the trombone. Joy is drawing and painting and feeling amazement as scenes and objects take shape under my hand. Joy is that first acceptance letter, and the next one, and the next one. Joy is writing words to spin a story, exhileration and excitement chasing my thoughts as my fingers race and tales spill out, coming to life. Joy is the satisfaction of solving problems and finishing a job and having awards and honors bestowed on me for the things I did. Joy is cutting the grass and pulling weeds and sweating in the sun.
Joy is sitting on a bench over a bluff, watching the ocean as the waves splash and the birds wheel and call, studying the changing sea and listening to the waves, thinking about all the things that might be. Joy is looking up at the stars at night and feeling the wonder and awe that I can stand and look up and see all that distance across time and space. Joy is reading a book that leaves me wanting more, or reading a piece that explodes my thinking with new ideas. Joy is listening to a piece of music that moves me with its energy and genuis.
Joy is watching one person helping another, and watching children run across fields and store floors, testing their legs. Joy is the thrill of witnessing another achieve their dream and sharing in their happiness. Joy is watching a happy dog run down a thrown ball and retrieve it.
Joy is walking along the streets and seeing the changes of the season. Joy is walking through the fields and hearing the talking crows.
Joy is living and loving and being part of the world.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com