The newspaper called it a “warm, summer-like evening.” It was a nice night and a lot of folks felt like getting outside. So my then-husband and I decided to get in the car and go for a drive. On our way home, we stopped at a neighborhood coffee shop. It was busy with people inside and out. Not inclined to go in, I asked for an iced decaf latte and sat back in the car to wait while he went inside to place our order.
Just as he disappeared, I looked to the left and saw a little boy of about five years old. There he was, in the middle of the sidewalk — his mom watching off to one side – and he was turning somersaults. With a big wide grin on his face, he kept going in an impressively straight line, turning one somersault after another after another. His laughter tumbled out of him, audible even through my closed car window.
What an awesome sight! Actually, it was more than just a sight, it was an experience. His unreserved joie de vivre was infectious – spreading outward to those of us around him and gifting all of us with pure vitality and lightness of being.
It’s a funny thing about joy. It spirals through us with so much energy that our bodies can’t contain it. It has to be expressed. So we jump, we twirl, we leap. We hop, skip, soar, and spin. We spike the ball in the end zone and do a little dance. Our chest swells, our breath catches, happy tears spill down our cheeks.
If we’re lucky, that joyful energy gets expressed as an artistic creation – a painting, a performance, a poem, a melody. And so the joy is shared and passed on. With playful abandon, it rolls across space and through time, gathering momentum and building up great reservoirs of goodwill. It washes over us and leaves us with child-like wonder.
How truly fortunate we are to be able to take a drive on a “summer-like” evening with the one we love, to taste the smoky sweetness of an iced latte, and to hear a little boy’s laughter wafting on the night air. How fortunate we are to know there is such a thing as joy – to be able to feel it, express it, and share it.