“Joy goes with happiness (sukha), but there are differences. When you are thirsty and a glass of water is being served to you, that is joy. When you are actually able to drink the water, that is happiness. It is possible to develop joy in your mind, even when your body is not well. This will, in turn, help your body. Joy comes from touching things that are refreshing and beautiful, within and outside ourselves. Usually we touch only what’s wrong. If we can expand our vision and also see what is right, this wider picture always brings joy.”
– The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation, by Thich Nhat Hanh
Tonight I’m sweating it out on the mat in an hour-and-a-half vinyasa flow class. Our instructor tells us the class is about Celebration. Which can feel kind of funny while challenging the body, and not necessarily looking graceful doing it. I’m ready to try to lift into Crow arm balance, and as I do I fall – almost on my face. Instead of irritation, the word, “celebration!” shines in front of me, and I laugh. I know if I almost fall on my face, I’m practicing correctly.
The sun has slapped itself out of the trees and grey skies. The air is warming; flowers are blooming. Each winter seems darker than the one before but, incredibly this winter is passing, too. I find a talisman for my daughter’s room – “to watch over you,” I tell her. “I’m honored you thought of me,” she returns, with feeling. She is my heart. One of the things I seek, and she doesn’t know it, is her smile. When she really really smiles – her grin is crooked slightly – it is revealed: the only childlike bit of her left, a babylike softness under her chin. She is a willow, a clear torrent laughing over savage stones. She is a tigress with scuffed tennis shoes and clean nails and a slender waist and wild hair she shakes out of her eyes.
Dark clouds threaten at my temples; worries. Anger about the past. These small storms come and go; I water the seeds of mindfulness instead. I abandon my work and hold my son, and his sweet-smelling head and hair of spun gold, and his warm little body. He too is growing and soon will be a young man. I’ll be left with thorn-pricks in my arms and without a single bit of understanding as to how I survived their childhoods.