We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Fear and Bitachon, trust

Summer                                                                     Woolly Mammoth Moon

article-new-ehow-images-a07-ti-j3-duties-literary-agent-800x800Spent most of yesterday on submissions. I revised School Spirit, taking 2.0 down to 2,700 words from 4,800, and submitted the revision to Mysterion. I developed a table in Word to track my submissions. It has these columns: submission, work, publisher, response, rejection, acceptance, contract, published. Later on today I’m going to begin revision of Superior Wolf, which I want to get out as soon as I can get it where I want it.

I now have an Evernote file for Novel and Short Story markets which contains 25 new markets and I will build that file. I need another log to track reading periods, periods when a particular market opens to submissions. They are often only a month long, so you have to both have work that fits their interests and know when to send it. Once I get a rhythm going here, I’ll get back to agent submissions, arguably more important than submissions to markets.

tumblr_mh1q88lsfr1s19s9xo1_500So, I’m facing my fear, not only that, I’m leaning into it, grabbing it by the scruff of the neck and saying, “Come on, now. Message received. Stop already.” This is partly mussar driven, the practice I wrote about on July 6; but, it’s also driven by self talk that long preceded mussar, though ineffectually, and even a bit by the shame and embarrassment.

What, exactly, has the fear been doing for me? It’s tried to protect me, fence me off from disappointment and failure. It feels the pulse of shame before it rushes through me and says, go another way, that feels bad. Just keep your head down, don’t poke it up, make yourself visible. And, of course, in spite of that self-protective urge, the result has been that for 30 years I’ve felt disappointed and I’ve failed at publishing because I never took the risk.

Fear, like doubt, is good. To not fear the fall from a high cliff is stupid. Getting a flu shot makes sense because fear rightly says the flu is worse. Slowing down around a mountain curve? Sure, fear tells me I’d fly off into the void otherwise. But fear is pluriform, it responds to many things. When on the Savannah, a fear of vulnerability probably sensed a predator nearby, or an enemy. Pay attention. Hide. Be ready to defend yourself against death. Having a red light moment is adaptive, until it isn’t.

2011 05 06_0875Publishers and editors and agents, even critics and readers, are not lions or hyenas on the veldt. The fear I’ve allowed to rule me for the past three decades however has believed them so. The shame then is a complicated emotion which recognizes the self-deception and self-protection. It knows I’ve chosen the critique of intimates, why hasn’t Charlie ever published, to the critique of possible readers. That’s embarrassing, but it’s where I’ve been for a long, long time.

Now, however, a strange, new moment is on the rise. In part I got tired of the narrative I’d been telling myself, been telling others. “I’m just not good at marketing.” I call bullshit on that. In part I read this article about setting a rejections goal and this time it made sense to me, a sort of akido move, use the power of your adversary against them. In part it was this month’s mussar practice of facing fear in order to learn about trust.

Yesterday, for the first time I can ever recall, I felt like I was getting down to the business side of writing. Yes, I’ve made submissions before, but I have never made as organized and concerted an effort as now. It feels good.

But, if I’ve begun to push the fear, tried to educate it that this is not an arena where it’s helpful, which I have, I’ve begun to wonder about it, too, from the mussar perspective. If I face the fear, face it down, then does trust appear? If the student is ready…

CBE (1)I know that fear vitiates trust. If we’re afraid of another person’s motives, we’ll never get to know them well. If we’re afraid of public speaking, no one will hear us. If we’re afraid of our own motives, we’ll take few risks. In these cases, if we face the fear, listen to it, talk it down, choose to act differently, then we may find love, may discover that people want to know what we have to say, may open ourselves to the world’s rich opportunities.

I’m starting from the fear, however, not trust. If I eliminate the fear, if I continue (and I’m pretty sure I will) to organize, revise, submit, and create new work, will trust appear? In what? The question I’m asking is this, does eliminating or modulating fear create trust, always? If so, in what?

20180624_095408

seeing through the fear goggles on

In this instance, for example. If I have pushed back the fear, acknowledged the shame of constant wheedling about submitting my work, and have finally gotten somewhere with both, in what do I now have trust? That eco-system of publishing and readers will therefore embrace my work? Not really up to me beyond getting my work out there. That I’ll be a better person? Maybe. Since the fear has weighed heavily on my psyche for all these years, lifting it might have, probably will have, a positive effect on my sense of self. Perhaps I’ll trust life more, be less reticent. This would be huge, obviously.

Don’t think this is the heart of it though. Somehow the trust that emerges is, more importantly, in acceptance of vulnerability, trusting that when I’m afraid, or even ashamed, that I can still be in this world. We’ll see, of course, if this is true, but it feels right. Fear, then, can be seen as a tool, an important and necessary one, but one to pick up and then set down. It’s not a tool we want to always have to hand and when it is in hand, we need a plan to get it back in the toolbox after it’s done its work.

 

 

 

Mariposa

Summer                                                                     Woolly Mammoth Moon

Ruth at DomoSuch a sweet kid, that Ruth. When she left elementary school last year and entered Mcauliffe middle school, she was still a child, a fast maturing child, but still looking backward, not yet out of recess and whole day class with one teacher. Over the course of this last school year, she stopped being a girl and has become an adolescent, not quite a teenager yet, but definitely no longer a child. This last year has also moved her further and further from the immediacy of the divorce which has reduced her reactivity, allowing her to concentrate on her academic interests like math and Chinese.

When up here, she cooks, sews, makes art, watches TV, discusses politics, goes to Lake Evergreen for paddle boarding, comes up to the loft and sits in her chair. We talk:

Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
 

ruth-and-hair330As with Joseph, it’s a delight and a privilege to be part of this transition. It’s a miraculous moment, somewhat like a chrysalis. The Ruth that has emerged from childhood is different in substantial ways. More thoughtful. More adventurous. More eager to learn. More engaged with others. More on her phone. Bigger, taller. This turn, from elementary age to middle school age, is captivating. I can see why a teacher might want to focus on this age group.

She recommended that Kate and I watch Lady Bird. We did. What a perfect movie for her, for her time in her life. Lady Bird comes of age, has sex, chooses her own path. When the movies starts, she has a cast, a pink one, on her right forearm. It comes off part way through the movie, a symbol of her increasing growth. I could see Ruth traveling through Lady Bird’s transitions, just as, I imagine, Ruth could, too.

 

99 to go

Summer                                                                              Woolly Mammoth Moon

shame-1-1-2-638Ouch. I got this note back:

Dear Charles,  Thank you for sharing your writing with us! We received a very large volume of submissions and can only accept a small number; unfortunately, we are going to have to pass on your work this time. We wish you well as you continue writing, and we encourage you to consider submitting to us again in the future.” submission to the Metz Review, School Spirit

When I read it last night, a sharp flash of shame and embarrassment went through me from top to bottom. The old familiar response came, too. Not gonna do that anymore and I marked the e-mail done to get it off my screen.

shame 2Then, I paused. Wait. This is the moment I wanted. Lean into the shame and embarrassment, see what it means. Why do I feel that way? So many reasons. Personal competence. A big risk taken with no results. Kate’s been so supportive of my writing. Most of all though it’s my work, being rejected. And it feels bad.

OK. So, I feel all those things. I’m vulnerable, made myself vulnerable, put myself and my work out there. And, I’m not dead. I didn’t shrivel up like the Wicked Witch of the East. The fear is me trying to protect myself from rejection, from disappearing, yet it will cause, has caused me to reject my work myself; to write, then let the work lie in bits and bytes, hidden on my hard drive.

Maybe it’s like a phobia, the more times I expose myself to rejection, the less painful it will become? I don’t know, but in any case I know I have to lean into rather than flee from it. This fear is real and painful.

shame 3Not sure here all of a sudden. It was shame that I felt when I read this note. Didn’t realize it, name it until I began writing this. Why though? Why shame? Perhaps it’s from that old, underlying conundrum, am I living up to my potential? Who’s to say? Perhaps it’s wanting to be seen as a creative person, a writer of books, yet secretly suspecting that I’m not worthy of those identifiers. Perhaps it’s as simple as failing and being ashamed of failing?

shame3What I do know, for sure, is that this shame, a hot desire to hide, to cover myself, to flee works against me, is not for me, in any way. And I could identify that paradox in another, in Kate or one of the Woollys, or a friend at Beth Evergreen. I would have compassion for it, yet also have a tough love move against it. It’s not who you are, it’s an attack on yourself from within. Perhaps we could call it Shaitan, the Devil because it is evil to push yourself down or to push another person down. Why? Because living is all we have and shame makes us shrink from life.

Shame, huh? Gonna have to give this more attention.

Face the Fear

Summer                                                                            Woolly Mammoth Moon

300px-Gutenberg_pressAt the Mussar Vaad Practice group we all come up with a practice for the coming month, a practice based on that month’s middah or character trait. Each month the congregation has a middah of the month. Emunah, or faith was the middah last month. My practice focused on sharpening doubt, a practice that made me feel more alive, more grounded in faith as a necessary human act.

This month I’m getting even closer to the bone of my inner skeleton, as we focus on bitachon, or trust. This radical confidence is a natural sequelae of emunah. Like doubt is on the same continuum as faith, but at one end of it, trust is on a continuum, too, with fear. In the Jewish approach to these matters it’s not doubt bad, faith good, fear bad, trust good; it’s about knowing how to deploy them at the appropriate times, or if not deploy them, be able to feel them, to know them without hiding.

Following on the rich experiment with sharpening doubt, I decided to go with the same approach, the far end of the continuum, and focus on fear. I said as much at the MVP, but the fear I wanted to confront embarrassed me (probably making it an excellent candidate), so I didn’t name it there. I will now.

Albert Camus 1955

Albert Camus 1955

My fear, the core fear, is exposing my writing to publishers and critics. Ancientrails doesn’t ignite that fear for some reason, maybe because it’s seen by only a few, but sending off my novels and short stories and poems to publishers causes my fear to burst into a wildfire.

It’s quiet, though. How it works is I think about submitting work, I make a move or two toward that end, then abandon it. Often not intentionally, at least not overtly, but I allow this or that to get in the way. Query letter? I can’t do a good one. Mail the manuscript? Too much hassle. Find an agent? The old writing ouroboros rises from north sea. Nothing published? An agent won’t want my work. Yet, I need an agent to get my work published. A problem that constantly eats its own tail.

artistsThat same fear is the one I faced after the Durango trip, writing here about setting a rejection’s goal. I have made two submissions so far, one of Missing, a novel, and one of School Spirit, a short story. By focusing on my fear of rejection, the vulnerability it exposes, the possibility that I’ve been wasting my time for over 20 years now, I hope at least to get my work out in the world. Whether any one wants it is, well, up to them.

MAKING ART copyI’m embarrassed to write this, ashamed I’ve been so fearful, yet I have been both embarrassed and ashamed for most of the most of the time I’ve been writing. Now is not different. The only way I can make it different is by finding publishers and agents and getting my work to them.

I’ll let you know how it goes. I just got a new shot of magazines and book publishers open to submission today. That means tomorrow I’m going to be reading submission guidelines, looking at finished work and getting stuff out there. Staying at it is the key, I know that. Persistence. Something I’m usually pretty good at.

 

 

Reenchanted

Beltane                                                                                  Mountain Moon

kilauea fissure 7, opening on May 5th

Kilauea fissure 7, opening on May 5th

Still fascinated by the eruption of Kilauea. The Leilani Estates, houses bursting into flame, residents standing dazed by their vehicles after evacuating, monster movie scenes like the one below, show humans as do many Song dynasty paintings, small and insignificant next to mountains and rivers.

Listening to residents of the Leilani estates describe the shock is a lesson in reenchantment of the world. There were expressions of grief, of course, and bewilderment. All knew this possibility existed, but, like residents of flood plains and the wildlife-urban interface (us here on Shadow Mountain), hoped they would be spared. The lure is beauty. Always beauty. We take risks to live in beautiful places.

At the Columbian Exposition

At the Columbian Exposition

Some said things like, “Well, if madame Pele wants the land…” “Pele goes where she wants.” There was, in these remarks, no irony that I could detect. No wink, wink, you know what I really mean. The native Hawai’ian’s faith in Pele, given witness by the offerings at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater and numerous legends and dances, has, at least partially, reenchanted the Big Island for haoles (non natives). Whether they believe in a real, physical goddess or not, probably not, I sense the feelings of awe and the mysterium tremendum et fascinans that Rudolf Otto associates with the numinous, the essential components of the holy.

What’s happening at Leilani Estates is similar, perhaps the same, as my experience here on Shadow Mountain when I came for the closing on our home. The three mule deer bucks in our backyard, curious and welcoming, were mountain spirits blessing our move. I knew it while standing there with them, present with them in this new, strange place. It is not, in other words, that the numinous has disappeared from our encounters, only that we have unlearned how to know it. The reductive nature of scientism, that attempt to totalize our understanding with numbers and equations and laws, and the restrictive arrogant nature of religions certain that they know truth, has blinded us to the numinous.

numinousReenchantment has a precursor experience, a moment when we embrace the awe and the mystery, a feeling that we each experience, perhaps even experience often (childbirth, death, sunrise, the greening and flowering of spring, a snowstorm, bitter cold, blazing heat, the vastness of the ocean, love), but a feeling we have allowed others to reframe for us. The laws and beauty of scientific understanding do not explain away, as many assume. They are descriptive, a language of their own about the world in which we live. But they have not stripped out awe and mystery though men like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens insist on it. Empiricists, fed by scientism, want to suggest only through data and analysis can we know the truth.

numinous universe-2Or, the experience of the Celts and the Roman Catholic church is instructive here, one faith’s certainty can leave no room for the numinous anywhere but in their dogma, their rituals. Catholics built churches over Celtic holy wells. They deployed words like heretics and blasphemers and pagans to undercut the authority of the old faith. They appropriated Celtic holidays by turning Lugnasa into Lammas, Samain into All Saints. Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism says it well, “It is not the seeking of God that is the problem, it is the certainty of those who believe they have found God that is the problem.”

We can learn from the residents of Leilani Estates. We live in a wild universe, one well beyond our capacity to either control or understand. When we can set aside the certainty of others, the narrow thinking, and open ourselves to awefull and wonder of wilderness home, then we can know the ordinary holy, the secular sacred, the profane faith of those whose revelations no longer come from books or laboratories, but from that wilderness itself. That is reenchantment, that is reconstruction, that is a reimagined faith.

A Dark Mystery

Spring                                                                       Mountain Moon

death book of the deadSuicide. A dark mystery. It closes off communication, denies explanations. Though it seems cruel to me, the Roman Catholic prohibition against suicide puts a moral weight on the individual’s scales. Says, wait. Pause. They see it, clearly I think, as self-murder, but there is no nuance in the stance. No admission that life sometimes becomes a heavy burden, heavier than can be borne.

Among people I know, I know of two suicides, one a software programmer, an adult, and another, recent, a young man with apparently psychotic tendencies. I also know, closer to home, of an instance of suicidal ideation. That’s the difficulty, it’s so easy to proceed from considering suicide to a brash act, a momentary lapse in judgment that becomes tragically permanent.

Death Pendant_with_a_Monk_and_Death_-_Walters

Pendant_with_a_Monk_and_Death Walters

I applaud the hot lines, the counseling centers, the encouragement to see a person slipping away and to do something concrete about it, now, before nothing can be done. I’m also sure that no number of such services and attitudinal shifts will stamp out suicide.

The French existentialists posited suicide as the ultimate moment of human freedom, choosing how to die expressing a final raised fist against the crowd, against ennui, against the absurd. And, as an instance of individual choice, I agree. It is this stance toward suicide that carries forward into the debate about choosing death when a terminal illness allows for no hope.

Death remains the barrier about which we all wonder and about which we have no reliable information. Is it an extinction level event for the individual? Or, is it merely a passage way to a different mode of existence? How about reincarnation? I have no idea. I do know that our body returns its star dust to the great pool where it will resurrect in some other form.  I do know that though the dead no longer have agency, they can continue to influence life through wills, through creative work, through those they affected.

isle of the dead, arnold brocklin

isle of the dead, arnold brocklin

It is this profound and blanket uncertainty that gives death and, by extension, suicide, their fearsome reputation. Yet it does not need to be so. As I read recently, every generation finds entirely new clerks at the grocery store, politicians in office, farmers and factory workers, scholars and dancers. Death itself is not an uncertainty and in that intransigence gives away its secret. Death is not abnormal, in fact it is a perfect example of normal since it affects 100% of humans, of all living things save for a handful. That which is normal is just that, normal.

No one, to paraphrase Garrison Keillor, is above average when it comes to dying.

OMG

Spring                                                             New Shoulder Moon

anxietySurprising, sophisticated, jawbreakingly awful sign on a conservative church sign board: “Anxiety is just unbelief in disguise.” If you live in Christworld, there is a certain sense in which this appears to be true. If only your belief were strong, you would need have no worries. Look at the lilies of the field.

However, assume for just a moment that your metaphysic is wrong. Then, this sentiment is cruel. It doubles up the anxiety for those of us who are anxious, a whole big bunch of us*, by adding weak faith to the angst we already feel. And, even if God is watching out for you in a way totalizing enough to assure you in every situation, punishing anxiety as weak faith is not going to move you closer to faith. The opposite. It will push you deeper and deeper into the slough of despond.

Now, what’s funny is that I saw this sign on my way to The Happy Camper, the dispensary just over the Park County line near Bailey. Picking up our regular supply of thc, a sleep aid we’ve been using for a while now, is a monthly or so trip. Why do I need it? Anxiety is a bitch goddess who demands sacrifice as soon as my head hits the pillow. Has been true to a greater or lesser degree since high school.

Anxiety is not as much of a problem now as it has been, but the long established habit of chewing over the day once the lights are out has become a regular time for my brain to turn on, consider relational or political or philosophical matters. A habit I’ve been unable to break.

sleepFriend Tom Crane sent me a book, he does that every so often, “Why We Sleep,” by Matthew Walker. This is an excellent review of the latest in sleep science and daunting as a result. Sleeplessness has drastic health ramifications, enough to make the favorite yuppie mantra, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” ironic. What I can’t understand, and Walker says the same, is the lack of attention the medical profession gives to sleep. Many of us are desperate to get to sleep. And by desperate I mean desperate. Yet the help offered is often better sleep hygiene, a good idea, I practice it, doesn’t do the trick for me though. If help is offered at all.

I hate to add this idea to all those others out there, but this is a NATIONAL CRISIS. Especially for those of us in the third phase when sleep becomes harder for a variety of reasons.

SleepDeprivation3We have elaborate protocols for people with pulmonary issues like COPD or emphysema, cardiac issues of many nuances, joint replacements for tired and painful knees, shoulders, hips; but, what do we have for a part of our lives that constitutes a third of our time use each 24 hours? Yes, there are sleep centers, but they’re not on offer often and besides it seems that cognitive behavioral therapy is the current gold standard. Problem is not many CBT folk specialize in sleep and we’re certainly not referred to them anyhow.

It’s enough to make a guy lose sleep.

 

*Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.  AADD

Regress to advance

Imbolc                                                                             New Shoulder Moon

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
– Anatole France

melancholyThe last letters of the Hebrew alphabet now have renderings in sumi-e, lying on my table ready for quotes and the chop. A member of Beth Evergreen last night referred to me as an artist. Oh. I thought he said audience. Artist is not a word I’ve ever associated with myself so my brain heard something else. A revealing moment. How others see us is not always, perhaps often, not the way we see ourselves.

An obituary on Terry Brazelton had this summary of a major finding of his research: “Development does not occur on a linear path, with each skill building on earlier ones. Rather, it unfolds in a series of major reorganizations in which children temporarily regress before mastering a new developmental milestone.” NYT

Well. That explains melancholy, at least as I’ve experienced it. There’s a plateau effect, then a hesitation, a pause while the psyche incorporates a new way of being, one probably not available to consciousness at the time of the pause. Since it’s inchoate, the reorganization seems like a regression, a stutter. The mind and the body both slow down, awaiting something they don’t understand. Result: melancholy.

 Van-Leyden St. Jerome in his Study by Candlelight (1520)

Van-Leyden St. Jerome in his Study by Candlelight (1520)

If you’ve read my posts over the last month or so, I think you’ll see what I’m talking about. My psyche had moved on, already aware that I needed more tactile moments in my daily life, already aware that it was time to resort my priorities based on a new constellation of possibilities made real by our move.

Last night at the shabbat service a rabbi friend of Jamie’s gave a short reflection. She had us consider an unusual moment in the Torah when the former Hebrew slaves remembered fondly the foods they had in Egypt. Using this seemingly inscrutable nostalgia for a time of bondage, she suggested that during transitions, a time of instability, wandering in the dessert for example, we often want to return to the stable state we know to ease the anxieties and uncertainties of a transition. Thus, when faced with a period of eating manna during an often frustrating movement toward the land promised, but not yet reached, even slavery seemed to have its charms.

That nostalgia, I think, is the root of melancholy, a hope that the past can ease the upset of the present. The psyche knows that’s a false hope, a trap, but is unable to articulate why. So, stasis, moving neither forward nor backward, which the ego interprets as negative without knowing why. Really, the moment is gestational, a new way awaits its birth. Not back to Egypt, but on to the promised land. Not back to the life of forty years in Minnesota, but on to the new life developing in Colorado.

 

 

 

Experiencing Joy to Learn More About Joy

Imbolc                                                                           New Life Moon

joy chauvetBefore we got to Beth Evergreen yesterday, we stopped at Safeway. Kate had a fun idea. She would buy bite size Almond Joy candy bars and have them for everyone. While in the store, she also found some yellow roses and bought enough to give each person around the table a flower to take home. Though she had to settle for full size Almond Joys, the idea was still there and the flowers were a gentle, beautiful and fragrant memento of the time together.

Kate’s idea for teasing out experiences of joy over a lifetime worked well, too. After she began the afternoon with a chant/song of her own devising, Kate led us in a Hebrew blessing for torah study. She explained how to use her chart with single digit, adolescent, and adulthood as columns.

joy of cookingWe then spent an hour plus in an energetic sharing, each person picking one instance from each column. The responses were as varied as the people in the room and the time frames to which they returned while filling them out. “Getting my pilot’s license.” “Grandchildren.” “First kiss.” “Traveling alone, being alone in a strange place.” “Throwing rocks up so bats would follow them down.” “Playing hide and go seek.” “Having sex and finding out you’re not pregnant.” The general tone was joyful, celebratory as we both learned more about each other and got to share in each other’s joy.

When everybody had offered their experiences, I asked if we could use that content to try to define joy. How do we know joy when we see it, feel it?

flowcsikszentmihalyiHere are several words and phrases offered: Joy requires authenticity. It has a definite physiological, embodied component. Joy flows; you can’t hoard it; it’s contagious. Joy mixes awe and gratitude. Many people identified natural settings as joyful. Joy is transpersonal, often involving connection, (I would say intimacy.) with animals, other people, places. We get outside of ourselves, beyond ego, become one with whatever causes our joy. Being with children, especially grandchildren. Constant learning is a source of joy. Degas. Joy is transformative. Joy ignites gratitude. Joy is quiet and internal; happiness loud and external. Joy is a choice.

We skirted the issue, for this afternoon, of the links between joy and sadness, joy and gratitude, joy and generosity. For another time.

We ended with deciding on a practice. A few shared theirs. It was a bright moment and made more joyful for me by sharing the leadership with Kate.

 

Handout on Joy

Imbolc                                                                       New Life Moon

This will be given out at Thursday mussar after we’ve completed Kate’s exercise about joy in three life stages and discussed how our experiences might help us define and seek out joy.

Joy   joy brown

Joy    joy brown

 

“Yesterday, Rich and I sat down and had a short chat about it. Is Joy a verb? Is Joy an emotion? Is it a state of mind or being? And it got me thinking.

What if joy is the energy of life? And what it if manifests as a persistent yet invisible glow or aura that emanates from us at all times… sometimes it’s bright and sometimes dim. The more mindful we are of it, the brighter the glow / aura becomes. We can certainly sense when someone is joyful without them telling us, right? We sense their joyfulness even if they don’t speak (is that charisma?) The Dalai Lama emanates joy. I’ve never met him but I imagine he is joyful even when he is sad or ill (which he must be sometimes, right?) But how can you be sad or ill and still be joyful?

Maybe joy is not a state of well-being, but simply the state of being, period. Not physical, not mental, not emotional, just the fact of being alive is joy. Life is joy. Do trees glow? Do animals glow? Do we feel joy in the forest or in the presence of others? I think so.

My practice is simply going to be to focus on life as joy. Living as joy. Separate from all other things… including pain, sorrow, anger, jealousy. Let me know if you see my glow… because I’ll be looking for yours.”      Ron Solomon, by permission

joy japanese ivory sculpture

In Everyday Holiness Alan Morinis discusses the middot of simplicity. He identifies three levels of simplicity: acquiring less, becoming happy with what you already have, and nothing more to need. This last level, he says, sets joy free in the heart. “Released from craving and the relentless pursuit of more material satisfactions, perfectly content with what is, the heart bubbles forth with joy that is its potential and natural inclination.”

Marilyn Saltzman found this quote by the Dali Lama: “We can experience happiness at the deeper level through our mind, such as through love, compassion and generosity. What characterizes happiness at this deeper level is the sense of fulfillment that you experience. While the joy of the senses is brief, the joy at the deeper level is much longer lasting. It is true joy.” “The Book of Joy” by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama

A few synonyms from Roget: delight, gladness, rapture, exaltation, exhilaration, transport, abandonment, ecstasy, rejoicing

OED: Joy, sb. (substantive), 1. A vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well-being, or satisfaction; the feeling or state of being highly please or delighted, exultation of spirit; gladness, delight.  2. A pleasurable state or condition; a state of happiness or felicity; esp. the perfect bliss or beatitude of heaven; hence, the place of bliss, paradise.  Joy, v. (verb), 1 To experience joy; to find or take pleasure; to enjoy oneself. 2. To feel or manifest joy; to be glad; to rejoice, exalt.  3. To fill with joy; gladden; delight

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