I will begin the summer in Joy.


The Book of Joy Summer came so soon. I have been caught in the complexities of my own life and have barely read. All spring I have been attempting to read this book but have been hindered so here is one I plan to complete. It is the One book for my college this semester. I actually voted for it from a selection of four based only on brief descriptions and have already given a copy away. Sometimes books ask to be passed on to a particular person at a particular time and this one was one of them.

I don’t usually enjoy these kinds of books; this is likely part of the reason it has slowed me down. It is interesting to ponder these troublesome books. The ones we set out to read but challenge us to continue. It is partly the triteness of the topic, the oversimplification of the examination and partly confronting the pain of the topic itself. Joy is a complex emotion that juxtaposition against other complex emotions. It is (the first half anyway) exactly what I was expecting. 

In the mid 90’s, the Dalia Lama visited Wellington. It was a school day, but I spent the morning helping my father install sinks in newly appointed apartments that were then being constructed inside the Old Dominion building. The sinks were designed by the wife of an eccentric architect and were individually hand mademaking installation more complicated since each bench had to be custom cut to account for the variations in the handmade bowls. The confrontation of aesthetics with function. 
Anxiously counting the hours, I remember the moment dad finally told me it was time to go. We were finishing up and going to see the Dalai Lama. It was he said, a religious holiday. No one was going to stop us from this; school or work or anyone. It isn’t often one gets the chance to see such a person. We walked across the road to the convention center. It was conveniently close. We sat with hundreds of people and watched the Dalai Lama enter, seat himself and listened to him speak in broken english constantly smiling. I wondered how he kept a grin like that. This book is very much like that day. I recognise the way of being, the way of speaking and the subject. It is lovely to have the book to allow myself the time to again immerse myself in the wisdom of it. 

I am blessed to have this memory. When I think of it, I am reminded of my father and all the hours I spent with him immersed in his work. The work that he took pride in and seeing the frustrations of his profession and the joy of knowing that he had done a job right. A mundane job, one barely recognised and rarely valued. The memory of his way of being, his words, and the things he thought held value, like honouring his profession by installing a sink perfectly  or taking his daughter to see a Buddhist monk. The joy is that I hold these memories. That I can bring them forth  more vividly than I could ever hope to convey in words.  

4 comments on “I will begin the summer in Joy.”

  1. This is so beautiful: “The joy is that I hold these memories. That I can bring them forth more vividly than I could ever hope to convey in words.” And in a way, a book on joy that evokes not words but the remembrance of that joy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Can I just say this post made me cry? What a profound and powerful experience- especially with your late father. I can only imagine how it feels to read this book with all that in mind- you strong!

    I was lucky enough to meditate with Thich Nhat Hanh with a friend in Denver when I was moving to California in 2007- that is an experience I will always remember and this post reminded me of that memory, so thanks for the jog.

    Liked by 1 person

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