The Forever of Joy

Sorrow tells us what we want to hear, that the world is small and shall become smaller, that it will shrink even more than it is shrunken now, fold into innumerable wrinkles like a compressed apricot pit, compressed to the size of a mustard grain.  We want to hear it because sadness makes the world more manageable, however strange it sounds. It tells us what we can expect from the world: sadness and ever more sadness, in the predictable forms sadness takes, in tears, in lamenting, in crying and cursing.  We know what to do when we are sad, the blueprint of the whole blue world is handed over to us in sadness, easy to read, its instructions easy enough to follow to the last letter, so terribly easy, sadly, easy as breath comes in fits, easy as tears flow in streaming drops from the ducts.  Sorrow, like most other emotions, like every other passion save one, diminishes the world as much as it freezes and stultifies the world, it tells it what it is and what to do, makes all sorts of petty demands of it, relinquishes not an ounce of its power to it, rules it from start to finish, even when it knows that it is wrong and the world shows it another door or window and another way of seeing things.  Our emotions imprison the world like this.

            Save one: joy.  Joy puts no icy hands on the hot belly of the earth, but lets it turn as it will, lets the earth’s rivers flow as they wish.  The hot blood of the earth, the black or red or hot-orange blood, it leaves there and relishes the fact that it stays unexposed.  With blessings stretching from one corner of the earth to the other, from one side of all things to the other side of all things, joy affirms its lack of control and lets the world come and go, and come again if it wishes.  Joy even wishes along with the earth that the earth come again, grants the earth this wish so that the wish becomes the earth’s own, and the earth wins itself more fully and robustly than it could otherwise under the hand of sadness or any of our other passions.  Joy is precisely the joy of Not Otherwise, joy in the appalling fact that the world cannot be otherwise, and will not be bothered by condemnations or judgments of any kind.  Every other emotion wants the world to protect it, to maintain it, to see that it has a future.  Not so joy: joy gives the world back to itself, lets the world drift and spin away from the joyful to the opposite of joy, puts itself in the face of the manifold dangers to its own constitution the world brings.  Joy does not indulge us but indulges the world, it gives in to the world’s every whim.  It does not tell us what we want to hear, that we are the center of things or important to some degree, from trivially so to monumentally, but tells the world what it wants to hear: that it is the best and mightiest, no matter how hard it makes it for us to realize this.

            For such a powerful and empowering joy is hard-won, the hardest thing to win.  What could be more trying than to allow the world to demolish your every design and vision regarding the world, and still love it for all that, love it in spite of that unbending interference, love it more because of that?  The hardest thing to win of all, and it will be ages from now, impossibly many ages, before we even catch a glimpse of it, sense the slightest tingle of it.  We will have to go through an arduous schooling of reminding ourselves of how often we have failed as regards coming to joy and the joyous, the abortive, naive and hackneyed nature of every single one of our ideals hitherto, how plain stupid and blind they have been.  Opening our eyes will take so long, and will smart us so in opening, that for ages to come we will roam the earth half-blind and half-baked with a half-joy, a semi-joy that touches not even the tail end of joy’s train.  We will be so abashed by the light coming in, the purity with which it sanctions everything, that for a long time we will encounter the light with a hefty dose of shame inside us, shame along with the wish and the legs ready for running to return back into the shadow cast by the clouds, the limited and limiting, the strict-restricting tethers and dark blankets, of the perspectives in which we feel most at home.  For a long time, joy and only joy will seem a monotonous sad song itself….  Joy will be our exile for a long time, until we see it so undeniably that it breaks us loose from our age-long habits, that it forces us into its openness.

            But when it comes, when we are finally cracked open, opened up to reveal, through the roofs of our heads and our hearts, the wide-open, cloudless sky, it shall not leave, for it will not be able to.  When it comes–and it must, as sadness must, as all things, all passions, must–it shall never leave, for this reason and this reason only: it shall discover, and we along with it, within it, surrounded by it now, that it has always been, that it is and shall be forever more, in an abundance always forthcoming no matter how severe the lack; joy, joy, joy, joy…joy….

            We know the lack of joy–we know it all too well!  In all reality, that is, if we are frank and honest with ourselves, we have incorporated sadness, the lack of joy, so much into ourselves that it has become our very identity, the unhealable disease we carry.  No matter: for joy shall lift it up, this sadness, lift us up and all things with us when we finally see things for what they are, when joy finally arrives on the scene.  The scene will be changed, forever, always, in its sameness just as the Same will persist with the transformation.  We might stay sorrowful forever, we might lie ourselves into this trap for good….  No matter..: the forever of sorrow teaches us the forever of joy as much as anything else. What we want to hear is precisely what another side of us, the stronger or weaker element of us, does not want to hear, and vice versa.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s