FishDreamer scribbles: Seeking Serenity Online

Saturday, 23 July 2005

The Sense of Joy

I had a little realization today. While I was on vacation, a wise man commented on my child-like delight in the world. I'd forgotten about that, but it's there. I'm not always like that, but there's a certain amount of joy I take in simply being alive, most times. There's a veneer or a filter that most people have to conceal or obscure that, but I've never managed to lose that feeling. And I look for it in the people around me, it's something I desperately love to share. I guess this is why some people see me as naive and immature sometimes. (I'd call that a misreading, but it's not really something I worry about.)

I look for this in people, and I think part of my problem with relationships is that I mistake immaturity for that feeling, that sense, that ability to enjoy unalloyed the wonders of the world (like sunshine on my face or the touch of a cat or the simple company of good friends). I think what I truly need is someone who has both that and a sense of responsibility. I have both, I need both in other people. I have a very strong sense of my responsibility to the world, to other people, to myself. It grates on me to be much around people who don't also have that.

Things like paying your bills, allowing other people to merge on the freeway, employing common courtesy, not ruining things for other people. Being aware that there are other people, and that part of living in a civilized society is taking those people into account when you do things. I do this, without really thinking about it most of the time. It's not naivete, it's courtesy. And it makes much more sense to me, to cultivate this joy in the world, than to suppress it and try to be cynical and hard and (frankly) miserable. And lonely.

It is not really easy to find someone who can even see this delight, let alone someone who shares it. By the time you reach my age, most people have grown shells and had bad things happen to them, and that tends to take the shine off the world. It's a vulnerability, this vision of joy, because along with feeling the delight so strongly comes the ability to be easily wounded. When bad things happen, it's devastating. I have no armor for that. I secretly truly honestly deeply believe that people are inherently good and want the best for everyone, and when someone unquestioningly proves me wrong, it hurts. A lot.

For just a moment, imagine that feeling. Imagine that you believed people were good and not out to get you. Now imagine someone deliberately slighting you. Not just being careless or heedless, but going out of his or her way to make you feel bad. Think about how that feels, to me.

My usual reaction is to feel hurt for a moment, and then to feel sorry for them. If the only thing that makes them feel good is to try and make other people feel bad, they must be pretty miserable people.

But the point of the thought I had is that I need to be aware of the difference. I need to figure out if it's immaturity or a real sense of joy in the world. Because I've had enough dealing with immaturity.

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