I get the impression that I’ve been depressing some of you lately with my criticisms and derision. I realized my tendency to focus upon the negative aspects of pop culture – i.e., those parts I wish to see transformed.

I could just as well promote something useful every now and then to balance the critique. Not that I will likely do so right now, but I wanted to let you know that I will (see, I’m a reasonable fellow).

I chose this photo as my immediate icon of joy. I need you to feel a little more of the joy in life if you are to help me make something better of this place.

I spent several years actively drowning every joyful memory in my life. I was a teenager, doing what ignorant and unprepared teenagers do: I was trying to become someone better than myself to rise to the blessed status of everyone else. I cared for practically nothing else. I made decisions I had told myself not a year earlier I would never make. Why? Because I wanted to belong? Well, yes… but more than that, I made those decisions because I forgot joy. I forgot the pleasure of tackle football in the grass. I forgot the exhilaration of freeze tag in the Fall. I forgot the time spent sitting high up in the trees, peacefully contemplating life.

None of that mattered, nor did it exist in my recollection. All I knew was that everyone seemed older, more popular, more experienced, and more aware of what it was all about. I focused on the dark things, and it led to cigarettes, hard drugs, seeking demons, and more than my fair share of self-loathing. I lost touch with the real. It didn’t take much, really. The mind is fragile, even though it is durable. I have been thoroughly flawed, but if there ever was one, I am one real man.
On the other side, I have slowly learned to reintroduce beauty and laughter and peace and joy. I have learned why I need them. I have learned that it truly is goodness, rather than popularity or wealth, that makes my life worth living.

In all things, remember joy. Collect joys like shiny stones in your pocket. Take them out regularly and enjoy them again. And don’t forget to keep searching for new joys. They’re out there for the finding.

*Photo belongs to Julie Harris Photography

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