joy to the world

I’ve spent 24 hours thinking about joy. Specifically, found joy. Are you familiar with it? I wasn’t until I thought about it yesterday and how it must exist.

Artists can create art from found objects. I think the rest of us can create joy from the pieces of it we find along the way.

Here’s the thing that I’ve also been thinking about: 2016 was not a bad year for me. You know that’s sort of the thing right now, to talk about how terrible this year was and how next year needs to be better … or …

In the world, things were bad. I think things are bad every year, if we’re paying attention. We are so incredibly lucky to be blogging from our computers from a train that’s traveling safely between states. Maybe none of this matters, maybe — poof — we’ll all go up in flames before I finish this paragraph.

(Still here).

This year wasn’t bad for me. I found joy all over the place. All over! I suppose I created it (I don’t believe in things falling, magically, from the sky). I do believe, though, in good luck and good timing and things that cannot be explained. But mainly, I believe in your own free will.

We find our joy if we walk more. So I walked more. We find our joy if we try new things. That, too. If we listen to our bodies. If we open ourselves to new bodies, new hearts. You know when your head is on someone else’s chest and you hear that thump … thump … thump. Well, I guess that’s an example of falling into joy. Resting there for a while.

Found joy can be short-lived. It can be a bright spark in a dark day. Dark days. I found it this weekend when I was home for Christmas. I knew I’d found it, opening gifts with my family, paying more attention to their faces than to the presents at our feet. I thought, “It can’t really be this good, can it?”

It can. Is it in poor taste to be so happy when so many things are crumbling around you?

At home I emptied a small dresser so that I could put away my packed-clothes. (When you go home do you also not wear any of the things you packed? You wear the old sweatshirts you find and your mom’s cute new scarf and mainly just pajamas). I found remnants of my tortured high school days. God, I was a moody kid.

I made art. Shitty art, but art. It gave me joy. For like, five seconds, until I was catastrophizing about whatever terrible thing my dull life would bring next. I was misunderstood, perhaps. Lonely, maybe. For sure, though, I was just going through the growing pains of growing into myself.

This time of year calls for resolutions. Who has the energy for those in the damp, cold days of January?

I call for more joy. I wish I had a formula for how to create it, a map for where to find it. It is little. It is the first smell of chopped onions heating in a hot pan. Even more so it is your dog’s nose when she smells something new in the air. It is big. It’s love so uncomplicated that it’s really, really scary, because who knew there was such a thing?

It’s finding that shitty high school art. The brown and blue one on which my paint-laced fingers wrote, “There’s always something to miss.” That’s true, high school Connelly, it really is.

But there’s also, always, something next. Why can’t it be joy?