I find writing prompts and assignments to be rather easy most of the time, which is why the assignment to write about ‘joy’ surprised me; I couldn’t think of a single thing. No, I’m not a dark person, nor am I melodramatic, or anything of the sort. I was stuck for any ideas, causing me to procrastinate about writing my article. Instead, I peeled back the cover of the album of my life, and looked at the fabric of my existence, searching for this elusive feeling known as joy.
Ever think you know the precise meaning of a word or term, only to find you were mistaken? In my mind, the definition of joy is sustained happiness. That explains why I was having such a hard time finding my mojo for this. See what happens when you think you know everything?
What brings me sustained happiness, a season of euphoria, a constant state of elation, my definition of joy? I thought and thought, coming up with only one answer; writing. When I’m writing something new or finishing a project, nothing can bring me down, not my relationships, politics, the weather, or the horrors in other people’s lives. I started writing this article, smiling as I enumerated the various writing projects with which I am enthralled. I’m shopping a finished novel, halfway through with another novel, writing a travel memoir, promoting my sports blog, and writing something every day, the act alone bringing me “joy.” I finished my article, then something pushed me to look up the definition. Sigh. My personal meaning of the word was incorrect, as the word joy is merely a synonym of happiness, euphoria, elation, etc. I deleted my original article, starting over from scratch with the precise meaning flashing like a neon sign in my brain.
I started smiling, realizing that the current state of my life, especially the last year has brought me nothing but joy, my original meaning and Webster’s. Since the end of January 2017, I’ve been on a natural high, not a roller coaster of dueling emotions, sustained euphoria, epitomized by a collage of perfect days. Yes, I said perfect. Perfect days exist to remind us of the possibilities of staying happy.
Sunday mornings, Coltrane making magical sounds on the stereo as I make homemade buttermilk biscuits, my youngest daughter Kym making fried potatoes, me joking with my wife Traci that my coffee isn’t sweet enough so I need her to stick her finger in it, my oldest daughter Amari calling on Facetime as we eat, love and laughter flowing easily, happiness a tangible thing. Joy epitomized.
A mild summer day in early September, kissing my wife in the shadow of a New Hampshire lighthouse, the seagulls squawking, the sounds of the ocean providing the soundtrack for a perfect day, as my wife later writes our initials upon the sands of a beach in Ogunquit, Maine. Away from the bustle of the urban grind, we ponder if we could be happy living in New England, eating lobster and clam chowder as frequently as we eat pizza and tacos in Chicago. Thinking about those moments months later, and the feelings I felt then rise up in my soul, acknowledging the joy created then.
My daughters started pretend arguments with me on our way to Niagara Falls, with me lounging in the back seat, Amari at the wheel, and Kym riding shotgun. We argued and laughed about boys, politics, life, and cheeseburgers, and the pride I felt of the two of them was so profound. Their logic, their musical choices, the reasons they liked the boys in their life, all stemmed from my viewpoints. Imagine that. Smart boys who are adventurous, ambitious, and have a sense of humor, are attractive to them. I didn’t want to rub it in, but the guys they like are reminiscent of their Daddy. That means I’ve done a pretty good job as a parent. Elation.
My mother’s face as I pulled up at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, a place she’d always wanted to visit. Priceless. The unspoken words which played over and over in my head were “Ma, you put so many dreams and hopes into me, that all of the things I am were constructed by you.” I surprised her then, and I’ll surprise her again. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my mother, who showed me how to leap for the stars. Euphoria.
I have no complaints about my life. Dark days are soon forgotten as I concentrate on the blessings I’ve been given. I am a father (Daddy!), son, husband, brother, nephew, cousin, writer, author, traveler, daydreamer, music lover, creative soul, cook, grillmaster, bar aficionado, and a multitude of other things. Shake them up, pull them out one by one, and I’ll smile at each one, fulfilled, contented, happy, and joyful in every aspect of my life. I haven’t been a caterpillar in a very long time…
-Marlon S. Hayes
Marlon S. Hayes is a poet, writer, author, and blogger. His latest book Sippin’ Life at Lucky’s Bar and Grill is available on Amazon. Follow him at Marlon’s Writings on Facebook, Voices from the Bleachers on Facebook, and marlonhayes.wixsite/author.com