joy


joy n. a feeling of great pleasure and happiness

ravi-shankar-horizontal-gallery

The word joy is inevitably being said more these days as it is the holiday season. “Joy to the world” yadda yadda yadda. I was thinking about joy today while eating lunch. I must have heard it on some Target commercial or perhaps on a sign somewhere. In my mind, joy has a more profound meaning than just “great pleasure.” I feel like I often feel happiness or, more often contentment, but joy seems somehow more pure and untainted. I think we all have moments of happiness in our lives, but our moments of joy are far, far fewer and yet more crystalized in our memories.

I think the OED may have fallen short in defining this word so broadly. I associate joy with childhood. It is happiness that knows no cynicism – pleasure in its purest form. When we are children, we find joy in simple things – like climbing trees or being tickled. The idyllic childhood has you feeling this happiness in an unfettered, unspoiled way. The longer your span of enjoying this joy – or untainted happiness – the happier your childhood. When we are young, we haven’t experienced a lot of evil yet – hopefully. We are naive. We aren’t looking around the corner for the catch or the ghost that spoils it all. It’s a lot like the way a child runs – with complete abandon – because they don’t know to expect fatigue or pain yet. The moment is singular and completely in the present.

When we grow older, we collect the moments when our joy was abbreviated, either by the course of nature or by other people. We become cynical, hardened, expecting our happiness to be short lived or false. We are far likelier to experience contentment – joy’s smug, adult counterpart. Contentment is what we settle for when we are adults because joy is so fleeting and hard to attain intentionally. In this day and age childhood has been expanded far into the twenties, but I don’t think that childhood joy endures. It morphs into a strange hipster irony – almost a reflection of joy – that mocks its existence because it’s easier to be cool and impress people than to get to the unattainable joy.

There are moments in my adulthood when I have experienced joy like I used to as a child. It was not on the day my son was born. Watching him fly out of my body into the arms of my doctor while my husband held my left leg and stared in horror is not what I would describe as joyous. It was a wonderful moment in some ways, but there was too much fear and surprise involved to call it joy. I most often find joy in music…and I’m not talking Beethoven or a Puccini opera…although those would work. I find joy in just listening to all sorts of music and just being there, in the moment…or sometimes singing in the car while Graham bops around. It could be Katy Perry or Metallica, there’s just something about music that brings on a moment of joy for me.

Today marks the passing of a great musician, Ravi Shankar, who I became familiar with when I was 19 years old. My father was very sick from radiation treatment for his brain tumor and I had a job working in a factory soldering circuit boards. I was supposed to be a freshman at Providence College but had to stay back a semester because my father’s health was so precarious, as was our financial situation. I used to go to the public library after work and check out CDs from the basement music department. I had heard sitar and raag in the Beatles music I sometimes listened to so one day I checked out a Ravi Shankar CD. I brought it home and listened to it over and over. There was something very relaxing and quietly joyful in the strings, something I really, really needed during that difficult time.

My father’s tumor was in the occipital lobe of his brain and he had lost a great deal of his eye sight when they removed the tumor and could no longer read books – which was one of the ways I am convinced that my father found joy. I remember sitting in our small living room listening to my CD on a set of headphones when my father asked to hear what I was listening to. So I played him the Ravi Shankar music that I was so fond of. I like to think that that moment was one of joy for my father – just existing in the music the way he used to escape in his books. We played it many times after that and it became our habit to listen to music in the same way we used to share books. There was something about the sound of the sitar that healed both of our pain. It was like listening to audible peace. The memory brings me joy whenever I hear those strings.

R.I.P Ravi Shankar

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45 thoughts on “joy

  1. Reblogged this on Bored American Tribune. and commented:
    R.I.P. Mr. Shankar — J.W.

  2. mohsin says:

    Ah that’s so true. There is some kind of power in Sitar. It even heals. I also find his music very soothing. Here is a link for a great collection of Ravi http://grooveshark.com/#!/ravi_shankar

  3. Snakehair says:

    I lOVE RAVIE SHANKAR. Have you heard the wonderful music by his daughter, Anoushka Shankar? It’s just as glorious with a touch of the divine femininity she carries within. Total goddess! My favorite song of hers is “Sinister Grains”. Check it out when you have a chance

  4. Ritu KT says:

    I loved Pandit Ravi Shankar’s music too, I enjoy it from his younger daughter Anoushka Shankar who also plays sitar. May he rest in peace.

  5. Great post.

    I posted this video about Ravi on my site.

  6. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com says:

    India’s musicians and composers have contributed so much to the world.This instrument sets the Indian music apart.I do play the middle -eastern Oud with 12 string but this Sitar is exceptional.Great post l enjoyed the music.jalal

  7. amiramirul2013 says:

    Reblogged this on My Gay Boys.

  8. Moneky says:

    Reblogged this on Insanity & Beyond and commented:
    Hi Guys, after the GRIEF today in America lets have a bit of joy in our lives. Nothing more majestic then music. Love Monkey. xx
    “There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.” ~ Gandhi

  9. Der hat aber geschickte Finger!

  10. eof737 says:

    Pandit Ravi Shankar was a consummate musician and gifted sitar player… I’m sorry about your dad’s health struggles, but thankful he found some comfort in Ravi’s music. Congrats on being FP’d.
    Eliz

  11. Ravi Shankar….!!! I was mourning just the other day about something else and my friend was determined to find out why. He brought up Ravi, I couldn’t believe it. I remember listening to cassette tapes over and over again when I came back from India some 15 years ago. Well I am going back in a month and definitely will think of Ravi Shankar while I’m there!

  12. hanmonique says:

    Reblogged this on cambios de humor and commented:
    RIP to the mestro

  13. segmation says:

    Love your blog. Thanks for sharing these pictures of joy!

  14. That was a really great post. I think it gets easier to be a cynic as you get older, but finding something that you love that completely engulfs you can bring you joy. Hopefully, we all get a few more moments of joy soon!

  15. shoshanaspa says:

    Thank you for sharing

  16. raynadee says:

    Ravi Shankar was India’s gem … It is a huge loss, yes his daughter is good too, but for me she or no one can be Ravi Shankarji. Than you for writing this… His sitar cuts straight through to your heart. R.I.P. Ravi Shankarji

  17. I really like your blog and would love you to feature on mine, http://www.5thingstodotoday.com. All you have to do is write five suggestions along with a link back to your site. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about.

  18. This is very touching to read and I enjoyed this so much. Thank you for sharing this,it is a great encouragement to me.

  19. sil86as2 says:

    Reblogged this on gottopickapocketortwo and commented:
    This is a lovely post about the nature of joy and a tribute to the late great Ravi Shankar.

  20. sil86as2 says:

    I loved this post and have reblogged it. I still remember seeing Ravi Shankar back in the 1970s in Sydney at the Town Hall. His music was so soothing and invigorating at the same time and he was a consummate musician.

  21. What a beautiful, heart warming post! I couldn’t agree more – joy is something deeper and more profound than happiness and for me being around children who are living it unabashedly and exuberantly is a real gift. This is a word dear to my heart because it’s part of my name…Hara is Greek means joy! Joy = happiness + the tears of being deeply touched by, and connected to, the beauty of life.

  22. robbeasley915005692 says:

    Experienced when the mind is free of self

  23. paintmefuschia says:

    It’s rare to find a post that will catch your attention and cause you to stop and read it. I agree that music does bring joy. Whats behind the music is what makes the music. Something for us all to think about. Thanks for sharing a part of your personal story.

  24. The levels of joy and sadness are spiking up and down with such high intensity these past few days. The joy of the holidays has been pierced with the sadness of Newtown. The joy in celebrating life and heroic deeds – the best that humans have to offer, in sharp contrast to the worst we can imagine.

    Thanks for the post on Ravi. I am a huge Beatles and George Harrison fan, so Ravi means something special to me in terms of the joy and grounding he provided George, not to mention his influence on his (and their) music.

    I am reposting this on my blog -http://pattytmitchell.com/

    With gratitude- and joy.
    Patty T M

    • akreed says:

      Thanks so much for reblogging as well as for the wonderful compliments. Your blog is wonderful. I recognize the picture of DiPasquale Square in Providence…I lived in RI for 10 year in various parts of Providence and then Oak Hill, Pawtucket until we moved to the tri state. It is a place I hold dear to my heart and I can’t wait to spend some time reading your blog.

      Thanks for reading!

  25. Your thoughts flow is smooth and write up is interesting till end. Music of sitar heals body and soul. I have heard about Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) which is used for healing purposes.

  26. Blessed are those magic fingers that produce some amazing music. RIP Ravi Shankar. Nice post.

  27. thetalkinghangover says:

    Yes Ravi was excellent!
    thanks

  28. Blood-Ink-Diary says:

    Totally relished your post! I am a sitar player, as such, Ravi Shankar was/is a huge influence and inspiration in my musical journey!
    Thank you for a superb piece! Cheers.

  29. What a neat post! Good music is joy! Let me know what you think about my canine thoughts on joy, from the ground up.

    http://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/

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