The Happiness Myth
28 Wednesday Mar 2012
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The Difference Between Joy and Happiness
I have been disillusioned. I thought writing would make me happy. The truth is, it is full of peaks and valleys. Ups and downs. It fills me up and then leaves me hungry again. Some days it is merely knowing what words will describe my angst best. An act of smoke and mirrors that mostly leaves me wanting more.
But behind the act of writing there is something that all these words are designed to explain. There is a joy that I find in discovering words, arranging them, getting to know them.
I am a word hound, a hunter. I used to walk through book stores not to buy books, but to read the titles, flip to a page just to see if something jumped out.
I order catalogs full of roses just to read their names. I write poems so I can name them. Or I have a name and I write a poem to suit its face.
The Joss of My Fame, Luna Moths and the Use of Space, Sleeping Dogs and Blueberry Skies, The Farmer’s Prayer…
My favorite class in horticulture school was Woody ID, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, commonly known as the Dawn Redwood Tree. All those Latin names! They make me want to roll in the grass like a dog on a spring day!
Yes, I was disillusioned when I thought writing would make me happy. Instead it brings me joy.
But this joy is not found in applause, feedback, comments or seeing my silly blog rankings go up. These are external things, small happiness things, and happiness does not stick.
Joy is found when you know this. When you know that happiness is a temporal and momentary stage. The tulips, they come and go. Day-lilies? Well, they only bloom for a day.
If my outside is a garden -
Let the paths be paved with Latin names
The Zen word for enlightenment
A phrase snatched from an epitaph
Or the last breath of the dead
The whisper of a butterfly wing
My ear is cupped to the wind
Let my garden path be paved
With bricks of poetry
The crest of a wave?
There must be a name for that
The name of that tree?
Or the bird singing in its leaves?
Life is what is left on the tip of your tongue after all the words have been said – and there has to be a word for that.
I somehow feel better and lighter knowing this, having shed myself of this happiness myth.
Knowing that happiness is not something that stays, I can cease seeking it.
Knowing that happiness is external and joy is like an old friend who simply pours herself a cup of tea from the inside. And as long as there are words, my cup, it runs over.
Ian Hamilton Finlay is one of the most inspiring garden and word artists to me. His work is amazing, how he found the perfect words, proclaimed their meanings and set them in stone. He let the landscape of gardening dictate what it wanted. He listened and then set to work creating Little Sparta. One day I will go there to visit the beautiful gardens he created in the Pentland Hills of Scotland.
In the meantime, if I am not writing I am usually outside working in my own garden. Something I look forward to starting soon is a page on my blog dedicated to this beautiful place where I live, The Jasmine Bower House.
Do we plant our seeds for later inspiration or are we inspired to plant the seeds first? Which comes first?
The wind blowing inside the wind ~
The water curving inside the river’s house
This thing we call joy ~
It whispers from the inside out