When I first started to explore how we perceive joy in contemporary society, I was surprised to find how few references there were to it on the web.
I spent last week as a volunteer at ideaCity, ‘Canada’s premiere meeting of the minds’. Fifty inspiring presenters from the most diverse backgrounds spoke, unscripted, to an audience of 700. Over the three days of the conference, the word joy was used or implied frequently, sometimes unexpectedly.
Joy was woven through Margaret Somerville’s presentation on ethics; it shone in the living constellations of the deep, radiating from Oceanographer Sylvia Earle as she described the wonder of more than 7000 hours spent in an underwater world most of us never see; it was reflected back from the planets, stars and galaxies through the words of astronomer Edna Devore and planetary protector Margaret Race, most of all in their growing sense of awe at earth’s uniqueness.
Spirituality is to ethics as oxygen is to breathing.
Hope is the oxygen of the human spirit.
Joy motivates Liv Arnesen to journey to the remotest corners of the earth; it is what enables her to ignite a passion in others to reach beyond their own boundaries and aspirations.
Dreaming is a transferrable skill!
Joy was present in the empowering self-acceptance of transsexual Buck Angel, who is re-defining gender and educating an entire generation on the fluidity of sexuality, gender and identity politics. He is also a porn star.
Sophie Morgan, paralyzed following an accident on the night she finished her A’Levels, is similarly altering our vision of ‘disability’ through her capacity to see what happened to her as positively life changing, radiating positivity. (See her IMPERFECT campaign)
Lakshmi Pratury spoke of a notion of success based on becoming a ‘billionaire of moments’. Her method is simple; in every day, find a moment that you will ‘take to your grave’. Add it to your moment bank and never forget it. But to become a true billionaire, you must also contribute to and share in the moments of others. This seems to me to require a commitment to accessing and co-creating joy.
Similarly, Mallika Chopra emphasized the importance of living intentionally, defining intent on a daily basis in a spirit of love, connection, compassion and inspiration.
I am responsible for what I see . . .
But of those speaking from this more directly spiritual space, my heart was most warmed by the gentle, joyous glow of singer and songwriter of modern Jewish music, Neshama Carlebach. She spoke of reigniting the candle inside oneself, of connecting to ‘God’ however you define this, and striving for inner peace in your life choices. Her music reached beyond the words.
If joy was unusually present in this intense gathering, what were the common strands that bound together those for whom it flowed most freely?
Return again, return again, return to the land of your soul . . .
Ideas, passion, dreams, intent, amazement, awe, wonder, living consciously, exploration, self-acceptance, authenticity, transformation . . .
. . . and fun!