Posted by: Abe's Blog | June 27, 2010

The Pathway To Joy

In 1690, John Locke published An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, in which he wrote “the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness”. This philosophy was incorporated by the writers of the United States’ Declaration of Independence and described as an “inherent right” of all.

And yet, it seems to me that our country is filled with those who have lost their will to pursue happiness. Some have been crushed for so long that they accept that their lot in life is to suffer in misery or to endure in complacency. Many turn to substances to drown out the voices of defeat. Others chase ghosts, thinking they see the answer, only to find themselves against the wall at the end of the road.

But happiness is real. Joy can be found.

I had joy as a child. Then I lost it. It slipped away from my youthful fingers, caught in the torrent of the river of my life, tossed out of reach, flung round the bend and out of my sight. I thought I could catch it, and at times my hands would scrabble for a purchase and a glimpse of happiness would flash its brilliant smile, only to be snatched away in an instant. I tried to suppress my desire for joy. This was my lot, I told myself. I willed myself, the accidental martyr, to bear the pain, swallow the tears, empty my heart, become a stone.

But I could not.

I could not give up Joy.

I knew what it was. Joy. Happiness. I knew it as a child’s laughter. A mountain trail with my father in lead. The smell of baked bread on a Friday. A leap from the bank of the river. The smell of mud on my feet. Sweet corn over my head. Strawberries in my mouth.

I knew what I had lost. And I knew that I could not live without it.

I have lain on a floor with a knife to my throat. I have been humiliated and spit upon in full view of strangers. I have been pushed and prodded to the brink of breaking. I have watched from afar as my body was beaten. I’ve felt the hands of the demons who’ve reached for my soul.

But I never forgot Joy.

One day I made a choice. I pushed through the invisible barrier that shrouded me in Oppression and I leaped from the cliff into the great unknown. I didn’t know where I would land. But I knew that I could no longer live without Joy.

I began to live, to rebuild.

I was given a vision. I was shown a life filled with sunlight and song, laughter and love. The details were fuzzy, but the joy was unmistakable. I knew that I was being offered a precious gift, and I leapt with both feet.

I know what Joy is. It is the warm smile of a woman. It is a playful puppy. It is a wriggling dog. It is the hand in mine. It is the song that I sing to a harmony of hers. It is the laughter of a child. It is pain and enduring and knowing that we will come through together. It is knowing who I am and being unashamed.

Do you know Joy? Do you pursue Happiness? If you have stumbled or been caught in a snare, I offer my encouragement. Listen for my shouting. You can hear me, cheering you on. You have been granted the unalienable right to pursue your happiness. I believe it is your duty to find it.

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Responses

  1. Great piece! Or should I say, a “joyous peace”.

    Joy is probably the strongest of all of our blessings since it is ever present in spite of our efforts to stifle it. It lays in waiting, silently, waiting for us to rediscover it and reconnect. It knows that we (as humans) sometimes have a need to shed ourselves of our own gifts only to reclaim them as new later.

    Good thing Joy is patient with us.

    • Thank you Carlos, what an excellent point you make. You have nailed it on the head.

      • Thank you, Abe. One of the things I really like about your work is that you take great joy in what you do. It really shows.

        I also like that you, in addition to reminding us about joy, that your work remind us that we are already “blessed” (or cursed if you are having a bad day…) with the gifts we need to make our journey on this planet a great one. We just have to dance around the distractions.

        • I clicked “Submit” too early. Sorry for the typos.

  2. Pursuing joy and happiness verses seeing joy in every day life may be two different things. Seeing joy in every day life, the sun coming up, the birds singing, my own brilliant health, the beautiful smile of the man I love, all of these are easy to see and embrace…but for me, it’s been a struggle to pursue joy and happiness because blocks have stumbled upon my path — but I appreciate your encouragement, I will listen for those shouting to help guide me through. . . thank you.

    Nice posting Abe! Good way to start my morning.

    • Thank you! It sounds like you’ve already found much joy! You’ve come further than most in the pursuit of happiness. I see how far you’ve come, and I think it’s incredible. Yes, you have some stumbling blocks, but you are still on the path.

      I promise not to shout too loudly. Don’t want to hurt your ears. 🙂

  3. No, Thank You Abe……lol

    • Hey Mike! Thanks for stopping by and reading this.

  4. Wow, those are some powerful images. Thanks for making your joyful noise. I found this video of The Derek Trucks Band’s interpretation of that (or as I like to call it, The Susan Tedeschi’s Husband’s Band!)…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AkvIErWE8c

    • Wow, that song is awesome! I might have to add that one to my repertoire. 🙂

  5. There are so many things that seem easier when you are child. Joy being just one of them. That doesn’t mean that Joy is any harder to achieve as an adult, I think it’s just that we tend to overlook it because there are so many other things blocking our view. Sometimes you just need to clear out your mind a little to see what is right in front of you.

    Nice post Abe!

    • You got it! Sometimes we get distracted by the busy-ness of being. We forget about how much fun we can have while we are living our lives!

  6. I’m glad that you know joy, Abe. My joy is simple: the excitement my dog shows when greeting me in the morning, despite the fact that she’s actually spent the previous 8 hours glued to my side. Breathe deep and enjoy, my friend.

    • Ah, I know about this joy. My dogs are much more attracted to my wife, though I will do in a pinch. I think she spoils them, but sometimes she spoils me, too.

  7. as many a rapper has proclaimed… Word. As usual, i appreciate your unabashed, direct honesty.

    • Thank you brother. Word. UP!

  8. Love this Abe. I think we are all born to joy and happiness as children, and it is taken away from us by society. So, we all know it, we just have to find it again.

    I have found that joy and happiness again, myself, and hope everyone else does as well.

    As it is when we are children, it need not be required that others do it for us, we need to have it in our heart as who we are ourselves.

    Great blog my friend!

    • Thank you, Drew. You are right, joy is within reach of us all. We just need to re-claim it. It’s a longer road to joy for some.

  9. This is an amazing piece, Abe. I think it’s the best one you’ve done, ever.

    Some of the things you mentioned sound like they deserve blogs of their own. (Knife at the throat, beatings, the mountain trail with your dad, and the point of epiphany, when you decided/realized that you had a choice, and you made that decision to go for what’s important in life.

    I’m going to bookmark this blog of yours. It’s an absolute treasure.

    • Thank you so much, Wolf. At this point, I feel better leaving some of those subjects as barely mentioned bits in a larger blog. I know that we are often encouraged to explore our feelings by bringing back painful memories. However, I think it is better for me to just let them rot–it makes my life a happier place. I think you might be able to relate to this in a way. Maybe this just means I still have a ways to go…

      As for the epiphany, it was more of a gradual thing, like walking slowly up a mountain path through low-lying misty clouds to finally realize you are standing above them in the clear blue sky. I spent a summer working in the mountains alone, sleeping in my car, and clearing my head. Being away from the immediate and daily chaos allowed me to see how dysfunctional it was and I realized that I was enabling it by staying. The few times that I came home began to seem like a visit to an alien planet. I actually came to a point where I realized I was disconnected from the situation, which meant that I no longer felt “trapped”. It took me a few months, but one day I just walked away with the clothes on my back. I left everything behind. Then I started to rebuild.

      Wait. You’re right…that was a whole ‘nother blog 🙂

  10. Yes, I know what you mean about letting those other subjects alone. I actually wrote a blog that detailed some of the crap I went through – and then posted it as a private blog, accessible only to myself. It’s stark, quite real, quite depressing (for me), probably as interesting as hell but……way too transparent. I don’t know. You’re probably right, and sharing this stuff might actually (in my case anyway) prove that I’m past it, somehow. I don’t know. I still have a hard time not hating the bastard *, but there you go.

    *He wasn’t really a bastard. He had lovely parents.

    Key word in your second paragraph: “enabling (the dysfunctional situation)”. Bang-on! Exactly my story as well.

    We really are going to have to plan a get together of some sort, Abe. I’m envious that you and Roger got together. 🙂

    • We agree on many points here. I’ve scrapped a few blogs that took a turn down a dark alley.

      Yes, meeting Roger was pretty cool. We actually live relatively close to each other. Perhaps you will need to schedule some IT training in Oregon and we’ll take you fishing. 🙂

  11. Reblogged this on Abe's Blog and commented:

    This deserves a repost – originally written a few years ago. I am glad I read it again! And the journey continues!


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