Being a professional worrier, though, I worry that "joy" could become a victim of my personal ageing process. Losing vision, loved ones, youthful vigor and strength, and things yet un-lost is a sure-fire Joy douser, but I keep stoking that fire. Ageing is loss, joy is survival.
I recently quit a full-time job, and I need to shift gears into other fulfilling work. I need to justify, to myself, the validity of those alternate pursuits. Sometimes I feel guilty about being an introverted researcher of mundane proportions by day, instead of building a paycheck and being respectably middle-class. But I'm giving it over. Living joyfully is an art. It requires fuel to feed the fire. I collect, by bits, fuel for the pursuit and maintenance of joy.
In my head, Kathy Mattea tells the story of a retired trucker and his philosophy:"With pieces of the old dream/ they're gonna light a new flame,/ doing what they please, leaving every other reason behind." (2) Kathy, I'm singing your song, and doing what I please.
My Tiny Garden fires me up . Everybody I know is forced to view baby pictures of Kentucky Wonder pole beans, artisan gourds, and mygodyes! the grape vines that inspire pest research, home canning, pruning methods,and,especially, contemplative reclining-under. Kitchen Garden fuels preventative medicine research. Research fuels me.
Visiting my son recently, I woke up to a softly turning doorknob and a smiling 4-year-old in my face. She whispered, "Damma, get up. You have to look out the window. The sun is awake." Then she asked to listen to my heart. Then I listened to hers. Her Dad recently explained hearts send food all over our body. She will listen to anybody's heart at the drop of a hat. Hearts pump joy, too, I will tell her.
With encouragement, cat or kid, I check the sun every morning. I gather fuel and light the fires. "Go joyful into that good night," eh Dylan Thomas.
1. Yep, I'm a licensed Linguist and writing teacher and I spell "grandaughter" with one "d" because I wage personal battle against all kinds of stuff including redundant and non-represational spelling and grammar. Don't think that Spell-Check encourages that sort of thing, either, I have to fight back against it. I also take license with prescribed research writing reference protocol, because I forget what element comes when, despite having taught it for years. As I tell English Second Language students: first, just be understood. My passionate observations of Grammar--including the joy/job of visually landscaping writing--require a future post.
2. Mattea, Kathy. "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses.