Thoughts from a Neurotic College Freshman: I kind of forgot how joy works

Published February 21, 2013 by pipsqueak
white's light

“seek out the hidden places where the fire burns hot and bright” – the mountain goats

Humans aren’t meant to be sad.

Well, yeah we are. We’re built for it. We have brain chemicals and natural mechanisms that cause all varieties of unpleasant emotions – fear, anger, pain, sorrow, despair. But there’s something else to being human. I remember it from when I was younger, before my mind was enveloped with malaise. And I recognize it in art, in the poems of Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg and Matthew Dickman and Ani DiFranco.

It’s joy.

And you know what? I think it’s harder to find then you think, this deep joy that swells within you and gives you strength. It’s something we are all told to find in college, but it’s a far more tricky thing to actually find than it is to nod and smile when they say “Follow Your Bliss!”

So we follow other things, like the promise of money, like the comforting embrace of caffeine, like the brief high of those little red notifications on facebook. We’re in an age of instant gratification, but most of the time, everything feels deeply unsatisfying. Infinite distractions distracting from a certain underlying emptiness and uncertainty.


So here is my new manifesto: I will no longer be shy about seeking out the truly good things, about screaming the glory of books and dancing and running until my limbs ache and staying up into the wee wild hours of the night writing down my thoughts. My spectrum of emotion has too long stretched only from sadness to mild contentment. The suffering will take care of itself, flare up when it wants to, I think, but vital, visceral joy is owed some recognition in my life as well.


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