Knowing Joy

One key to knowing joy is being easily pleased.

So many of us have been trained to think that being particular about what we want is an indication of good taste, and that not being satisfied unless our preferences are met is a sign of sophistication. Often, this kind of discernment is seen as having high standards, when in actuality it is only a means of isolating ourselves from being touched by life, while rationalizing that we are more special than those who can’t meet our very demanding standards.

The tragic truth is that excellence can’t hold you in the night and being demanding or sophisticated won’t help you survive. A person dying of thirst doesn’t ask if the water was gathered in the foothills of Italy.

Being accepting of the life that comes our way does not mean denying its difficulties and disappointments. Rather, it means that joy can be found even in hardship, not by demanding that we be treated as special at every turn, but by accepting that we treat everything that comes our way as special. Even so, we are taught that those who have no preferences, those who are accepting of whatever is placed before them, are often seen as simpletons or bumpkins. However, there is a profound innocence in the fact that sages and children alike are easily pleased with what each day gifts them.

The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary. Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe. Yes, God is under the porch as well as on top of the mountain, and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers, if we are willing to be where we are.


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