I stare at the words on the paper, my mind whirling with various jumbles of thoughts. They seem to jump out at me as if in a mocking manner.
What do you consider are times to feel joy?
It’s a simple five-worded question. So why is it so difficult to answer?
My pencil skims the paper, spelling out the words:
joy is when you are happy.
“Yeah, real original, Cleo,” I mumble to myself before erasing all of the previous words. The pink eraser glides across the paper, taking all, but a shadow of the led with it. My fingers flip the pencil back to its rightful place, allowing me to scribble more words on the paper.
I consider joy to be when you…
I bring the tip of the eraser to my bottom lip, tapping it against my skin as I think. My leg begins to shake as the anxiety of not putting the right answer down becomes too overwhelming. When a breeze blows pieces of my hair in my line of sight, I glance upward as I try to peel the strands away from my face.
In the attempt to free myself of the mess, my eyes capture a scene playing out in front of me. A little boy stands with, who I assume is, his mother latched onto his hand. He raises his arm, pointing a finger in the direction of a street musician. He drags his mother in the direction of the guitarist, giving her no choice but to follow.
The musician is strumming the chords of a simple Christmas song, gaining the attention of a few people passing by; some are generous enough to drop some money in his hat on the ground.
“Play Hallelujah!” the little boy shouts, interrupting the performer.
His mother begins to scold him, but the musician stops her. “It’s okay, ma’am,” he reassures the mother. “What’s your name son?” he turns his attention to the young boy.
“Milo,” the little boy answers shyly.
“Well, Milo, Hallelujah is a difficult song for me to sing. I think I’ll need some help. Do you think you can come up here and sing it with me?” the musician is crouched on the sidewalk now.
“Can I, Mama?” Milo asks his mother with hopeful eyes. She nods her head, after a moment of hesitation, allowing her son to participate.
“Alright,” the musician stands up, getting his guitar situated, “do you know the lyrics?” Milo nods his head in answer. “Okay then, here we go.”
The musician begins to strum the familiar melody, looking at Milo in an encouraging manner. Milo’s mother stands off to the side, watching her son with her hands covering her nose and mouth in anticipation.
Milo’s voice rings out, the lyrics flowing through his mouth in a rhythmic sequence. He only looks to be around six or seven, but the way he sings makes it sound as if he has rehearsed this song a billion times. Other people must think the same as more and more people stop to watch the talented little boy singing his heart out.
When the more difficult and high pitched part of the song comes up, the boy hits the note almost perfectly. He is a little shaky, but for how young he is, it’s quite impressive. His mom holds a smile on her face, her eyes beginning to water. The musician and audience share the same surprised expression.
The song ends after a minute or so, leaving the boy with a giant grin on his face and everyone else ridiculously impressed. The musician gives Milo a high five, complimenting him for his singing abilities. Milo runs to his mother, her arms wide open to hug him. I can’t hear her from the distance, but from the look of pride on her face, I can already guess what she’s whispering to him.
All of a sudden, my cheeks begin to hurt from the stretched position they are in. I didn’t realize I was smiling until now. I turn my attention to the paper in my hand. Reading over the question for what feels like the hundredth time as my mind thinks of the best answer.
I consider Joy to be felt when you are at various points in your life. Joy can be felt when you are full of pride for someone you love or even for a stranger. It can be felt when you accomplish a goal of yours. It can be felt when other people show their appreciation for you. It can be felt when you commit an act of kindness or someone is kind to you. Happiness can be felt from just a breeze that passes your face.
The point I am trying to make is that you can feel happy at any point in your life; even if it’s for the smallest fraction of time. To me, joy is felt through multiple and various events in our lives. His is the best and most powerful emotion you can feel.