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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Pursuit of Joy

Last week, my writing partner on this blog and I enjoyed a cold winter evening with a group of friends––eating, drinking, and being merry. We laughed so much that by the end of the evening our sides and faces hurt. As I drove home, I realized how important laughter is and how often we forget to put joy first in our lives.

That night, I dreamt about driving along a narrow, icy road bordered on both sides by snow banks twice my height––an apt symbol for my currently restricted life. Finally I emerged at a beautiful beach, where I saw windsurfers riding the waves. Even though the ocean was pretty rough, the surfers seemed to be having a good time gliding up and down the watery peaks and valleys. Watching them, I thought, “That looks like fun. I could do that.”

Of course, most of you know that water symbolizes the emotions. Waves represent the ups and downs, the crests and troughs, of our emotional lives. The windsurfers in my dream enjoyed riding those waves––even when they capsized they laughed, then got back on their boards and tried again.

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about joy. What’s its source? Where can we find it? Why is it lacking in so many people’s lives? Why do some of us seem to connect with it naturally, while others seek it desperately, yet unsuccessfully? How can we recapture it when things go wrong, rather than giving up?

I’ve thought a lot about my related dream, too. How succinctly and vividly our dreams speak to us, and how often they give us hope. My dream showed me that peaks and valleys are all part of the ride––you can’t surf on calm seas. It also said I don’t have to stand on the sidelines observing joy. Fun needn’t be an occasional experience, it’s available to us anytime, all the time.

Where do you find joy? What prevents you from embracing it? What can you do to experience more joy in your life? We invite you to share your thoughts and dreams.


Anonymous said...

Water dreams!! I love water dreams.

For me water in dreams is not only emotions, but actual emotional energy. And there are two things I look for in these dreams; the physical actions of the water and how people are reacting to, or using the water. I had dream where a friend was drowning in a small creek, all she had to do was stand up, but instead she thrashed about... what was interesting was that the more she thrashed, the more water flowed in the creek until it was a raging river that swept her away. I have had other dreams where people played in the water, or were afraid of the water.. i once had a dream where a town was getting flooded and everyone was rightly afraid of the destructive water. There were a few people who tried to navigate the flood to help others, but only a few of those survived to be successful.

The most fun I had in a water dream was flying in to where a small group of people were playing games in the ocean - swimming around and having a ton of fun - I joined in their games but I didn't swim, I skated on top of the water. By the end of the day I wasn't the only one skating on the water, they were figuring out how to do it too. Then, afterwards, they bought me a beer in a bar that was on stilts out in the middle of the ocean.

Interestingly, my most recent water dream was of standing on a beach and watching the water rapidly drain away and leaving a vast canyon landscape. there was no sense of despair in the dream. In fact, my thoughts in the dream were, "OK, we will just have to make do on our own for a while." as though there has been a flow of emotional energy that has nurtured us forever, and it was going to be blocked for a little while.

As for joy, since we cannot control the world around us, it is my perspective that joy can only be had if we use all of our senses to fully engage the world that we live in, the situations as they are, without fear, politics, or bias. And that is how we surf on the waves.

Have fun,

Lyndsey Powers said...

You're a phenomenal dreamer Craig! I appreciate your thoughtful insights into their greater meaning.

Joy, happiness, playfulness and spontaneity all seem so elusive to many of us right now. If joy is our natural state and we're finding it elusive -- what's getting in the way? Fear? Ego? Self-indulgence?

I have these fleeting moments of joy that feel so incredible - like I've just received a shot of adrenaline. I find myself immediately pleading with Source to not let it get away; so as soon as I feel it, I'm anticipating losing it.

Like you suggested, as soon as I experience joy, I'm just as quickly trying to control it. It's clear I need more work on "allowing." ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hello Lyndsey,

I am a crazy dreamer! I have been my whole life, but I only decided to take notice about ten years ago. I have had dreams where people in the dreams would use words that I have never heard before, even in other languages, and I would have to look in a dictionary or on the internet when I woke up. I have had dreams in sequels, where one night I would have a dream and the following night I would have a dream that was a continuation... the longest sequence that i have had since I started taking notice has been five episodes. but, i do remember a series of dreams that I had when I was young that I have no doubt was much longer.

So, I don't know if I would say that joy is our natural state, this may sound a bit rhetorical, but i think confidence and balance are more our natural state and that joy is the most dominant and memorable feeling of that state. It is like how all the conflict in this world tends to revolve around people who are pursuing God, or some other ideal, instead of harmony, but they say they are pursuing God, or that ideal, to achieve harmony. To them I say, "No, if you wish to achieve harmony, you should pursue harmony... (and then you would probably find God there waiting for you)" And I see joy in this same light, that we wish to feel joy because it is an indicator of balance and confidence. Thus, pursue balance, find confidence, and joy will be there waiting.

Which leads into your feeling moments of joy... It is clear to me that I am a crazy dreamer because I am highly empathic, that allot of our dreams are our brains trying to interpret emotional energy - the same way our brains need to interpret sound waves for us to communicate verbally. So, the fist 30 years of my life I was unaware of this empathic trait and I lived out of balance... a slave to other peoples emotions. I would feel other people's emotional energy and I either took responsibility for their emotions or I ran away from their emotions. Over the past 10 years I have learned to find balance in that emotional environment; I learned to discern between my internal emotions and external emotions. And, i have learned that some of my dreams are formed from my emotions, some of my dreams are formed by the emotions of others (I have some fun examples of this), and some of my dreams are formed by a higher consciousness, but I cannot be certain of which of the last two are which. For example, I was standing in line at the post office not too long ago and there were a couple of elderly people taking their time at the windows. i was in no hurry so I just bided my time. Then, all of a sudden, a wash of rage and anger took hold of me and I felt like yelling and screaming at the old people. i quickly got hold of myself and focused on my intention, and once I did I looked around to find that three people behind me there was a soccer-mom looking woman, with a package under her arm, a Starbuck's in one hand and her cell phone going in the other, had recently walked in and was about to blow her top. Thankfully, she didn't stick around too long and she took her anger with her, but it still took a while for it to wash out of me.

(ooooh.. way too much. Sorry :D)

Anonymous said...

Anyway, my point is that the joy you may be feeling might be coming from Source, but it also might be coming from someone else. And to understand and develop this feeling might require pursuing balance in your emotional environment. This is what I am working on.. If our dreams are rudimentary interpretations of emotional energy, and when we pay attention to tehm we develop a standard of communication, and if i can feel other people emotions while i am awake, then with work i should be able to develop a language to interpret the emotional energy as a form of communication. that is, the joy you are feeling is like the electrical signal that comes down the phone line, but our brains and consciousness are not disciplined or trained to interpret the signal. And the first step in doing that is decerning between willful thoughts and natural thoughts. And it is just as you say, you get the feeling and instead of allowing it space in your consciousness, it drifts away.

I hope this made some sense and that it is clear that it is only my perspective... but I fear i over stayed my welcome here with all this writing... i'd be happy to share more of what I have been working on and where I am with it, but I have suddenly become bashful. Feel free to send an email if you wish.


Skye Alexander said...

Thanks for your insights, Craig. I agree, emotional energy is a form of communication--more direct and immediate than thinking/verbal communication. Maintaining balance in the emotional environment is always a challenge, but worth the pursuit. I appreciate your comments.