“Do you believe it when people say they’re happy?”

-Maurice Sendak

The Gods must laugh…in gusts…

or large guffaws

And slap their backs when some poor fool has tripped;

They gasp for breath on corny gags,

And positively cackle at a pratfall;

Or if there’s only one of them, he has a lonely hoot,

a belly busting howl that bounces off his cloud.

It helps to soften solitude, I think,

and feel himself less alone,

to see us mortals on our knees, filled with grief and gravitas.

It is damn funny, how we pray and beg for grace…

as if our lives could matter…as if…


Let’s secretly salt our plate with joy,

And see if they notice.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily…

Joy comes in small doses. We realize that we’re happy as the moment passes. It is the attempt to sustain it that brings us down. The realization of being so, has awakened our acute, adult sensibility.

I would bet that those who claim prolonged periods of joy, have learned to string together small, fleeting instances of happiness . The same way we join together minutes, to make an hour. If we are happy for more minutes than not…well…that would be great.

Joy is appreciation…whether of a beautiful sunset, birth, marriage or morning, we are aware…if just for a second, of the “rightness” of everything. Obviously, there is no formula for it…no predictable stimuli, no sure fire technique, for getting or sustaining. The one thing that may give you joy today, may bore or offend you tomorrow. There is no guaranteed source that is not susceptible to pollution or over-exposure. We stumble on it mostly. It catches us by surprise.

When asked to recount a source of joy, people often draw a blank. If pressed, they may say reflexively, their children…which is most obviously not always true. Or they will say God, which seems to be the same as saying everything. Some are simply grateful.

We are happy when we are saved, ecstatic when we win, overjoyed at the birth of an heir. Humor is joyful, as is good health. No one wants to die…but would they really want to live forever? Some contradictions have no cure and even love has its’ ending. We pray when joy has departed more than when it arrives.

Life is but a dream.


This is my ode to joy:

No more blues…no sad songs…

no more woeful countenance…

no more paying dues, my past account is clear…

I discard the last of my burden;

my stomach churning grief.

No complaints, no remorse, no holding on…

I set a new and buoyant course far from these shores of perpetual regret.

This is the day of the most excellent revival.

The Gods will no longer laugh at me…we will laugh together…

for I finally got the joke.

Christ of the tattooed knuckles has jumped down from his cross.

Did you know he was Irish?

Look! He does a jig…a twirling, kicking roundabout,

When in the crowd he sees them,

He flips off the Pharisees;

Judas too!

Then he takes a deep last breath, looks to heaven…

and smiling in bas-relief:

says to himself:

“Dad…I’m coming home!”


 “Seid  umschlungen millionem diesen kuβ der ganzen velt”

–          Friedrich Schiller (Ode to Joy)


~ by theoxherd on September 2, 2012.

One Response to “Freude”

  1. Walter, here is a source of joy I experience regularly: I drive down my street, make a left turn two blocks away, and with the window open, even on windless days, a caressing breeze enters my car, washes over my face, and rustles my hair. I take a deep breath, and am ecstatically happy for just a few moments; as happy as if a lover has just tenderly stroked my cheek and laid sweet kisses on my eyelids.

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