I don't know a whole lot about joy, but I've caught glimpses of it and it looks lovely. I do know a lot about happy, excited, even laughter and twinkly-eyed smiles. Those may sound like the same or similar things, but the biggest difference is that while you can pretend all those things, you can't pretend joy. I know all about pretending, it often comes natural to me. In fact it's almost an art form, like acting or interpretive dance. It can be quite tiring after awhile, and so sometimes you just have to put up your phone and only be around people you can be real with. I'm sure you know this yourself, but that number can get real low, real fast.
Everyone wants to think they are real and that they want others to be real. Being "real" is a real compliment (although rarely accurate). "I'm SO tired of all the bullshit and drama, why can't people just be real?" I'll tell you why. Because real can get real frightening, real quick. And real can be really uncomfortable, even when you think you're ready for it.
I can be a whole lot of real and honest here in internet-land. No one is looking at me, trying to finish my thoughts, trying to match my feelings with some they've felt before (but have now masterfully overcome, of course). Trying to appear like they are listening, when really they are frantically trying to come up with something helpful to say. You know, to fix it. To fix this ugly, dark realness. No one wants to leave you there. I sound like a sarcastic douche, but I really do commend the effort. It's just, it feels more like people are trying to convince you to be ok. And a lot of the time, people won't be satisfied until they are convinced you are ok. And most of the time, it's just a whole lot easier to skip all the bullshit and drama and pretend to be real. Or avoid people. It all depends on the level of energy required.
Back to joy. My new quest in life is to find joy. Real joy. The kind that doesn't go away on a bad day, or when the bad days keep coming. The kind that doesn't need a smile or peppy words to prove it's real. It just is. Because real isn't always ugly, cold, and painful. Real can be quite beautiful, warm, and healing. I am really starting to believe that joy is more than just a back drop to a happy life. I think it may be an epic journey. That's right, epic. One full of adventure, surprise, and even uncomfortable beauty. If my theory is right, I've found breadcrumbs and road signs, but I've gotten distracted more than a few times by the alluring and misleading scenic route--also known as, people-pleasing. Go down that path too long and you'll start to believe joy is just another fairytale, as easy to lose as a stupid (and terribly impractical) glass slipper. I don't think joy is something you find all at once, nor do I think it's something you lose. What I do think is that as you gather the bits and pieces, they add up to something worth living for.