I feel different. Yes, the same in many ways, but I’m applying what I’ve learned, and it’s improving my life. I guess I just assumed that my life would always be about as good as it always was. Not too much worse or better for the rest of my life, and I was okay with that. I considered myself reasonably happy with the expected level of disappointments.
But, my life is getting better. And, I’m surprised. Almost blissful, really. Some days I feel like it is so much joy, that it spreads out around me, like an invisible cloud. Like an effervescent shield that didn’t keep people out, but spread over them. I don’t remember feeling like that before.
Maybe it was just smaller. My joy cloud when I was younger must have been no bigger than my chest. It didn’t spread out anywhere, just stayed within the confines of me, making only me happy. It didn’t occur to me that the cloud could be bigger. I only knew that whatever it was that made me feel that way was something I would want to do more of.
As I got older, I got hurt. It surprised me, and I didn’t know what to think. I figured I was pretty dumb for not knowing what to think. And dumb people get hurt. Dumb people also must enjoy feeling good all the time, so they fool themselves into thinking that they are happy when they really aren’t. So, I mustn’t be stupidly happy, so I must not be happy, and punish myself when I do feel happy. That’s the only way to be safe.
My cloud disappeared. It was so rarely needed, that it vanished. All I could do was remember and recreate what it must have been like. I would move my face how I thought joy would move. I would use my voice in the way joy would sound. And it got to be that I could get close to the real thing, but I always knew it wasn’t really there. I was pretty good at it.
I guess that’s why my cloud is so big now. It had been so long since I had felt the real thing, that it was ready to burst out of my chest. It kicked me back and knocked the wind out of me. Like paddles on a dying persons chest. I took a sudden deep breath and it came back, beaming out to everyone around me. Some people take it, and some people don’t. The ones who don’t are the ones I know well, because I can see how they move their faces like joy, and speak like joy, but are only imitating it, as I once had. And I know they can’t see how I want to share my joy with them, because I hadn’t seen that either.
I have learned. I know both now, and I see both now in everyone. And while I don’t celebrate my pain, I am happy for what it has shown me. I like seeing the world in light and dark. I see people better. I want to listen to them, and understand them, and share how we feel. I can give from what I have, and share with those who have to give as well. Because joy is free.
My joy arrived after I realized I deserved feeling it. After I stopped punishing myself for being hurt. After I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. That’s how I feel different. It’s better.