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QUINTESSENCE

Bumps Along the Way

“She was all around me
like a rainy day,
and though I walked bareheaded
I was not wet.”
- “The Blue Wing,” Donald Hall, A Blue Wing Tilts at the Edge of the Sea,
1975

Moths seeking light, albeit with a bump or two along the way...

You might describe my life’s work as a writer as a study of moths. The mixed up and confused human kind. When I sit down to write on the project I call FINDING JOY, it is with an image in mind I am on an excavation. Joy has to be out there, somewhere. Deep in the hills perhaps - next to the mastodon bones? All I have to do is search out the right conditions, bisect through layers of detritus and stone, and there I will uncover joy, cached with the broken pots of some ancient dweller's fire pit.

How wrong I turned out to be! Joy is not lost, and it isn’t to be found, not really. We connect or disconnect with spontaneous happiness all the time, sometimes without awareness. Joy is as simple to embrace as taking a breath. We close our eyes and breathe in what is around us, what is in our memories, what is in our heart. There is joy to be found in dreams, among friends, running a wooded trail.

I think we are all hardwired to be joyful, in the way the nocturnal moth is drawn to light. We seek because we are meant to, because there is meaning in what we find. What is more than true is that it’s a rough ride. Crashes, bumps, walls and invisible barriers. We batter against screens, unable to cease sometimes and rethink the plan. We drop, rest in place, and try again with greater purpose. And with this quixotic relentless valor, eventual success. We bump into happiness.

Donald Hall’s poem, although ostensibly about love, seems true of joy. It is all around, and although it is raining, we are not wet. We float in the happiness we seek.
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