i Believe in joy

Charles - South Bend, Indiana
Entered on April 9, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in joy; joy is the spring from which comes the strength to endure the daily hurdles of life. Joy inspires positive thinking in a midst of chaos, failure, and the daily atrocities we see taking place around us. Joy is neither tangible nor purchasable; it is the decision to rejoice nevertheless. It is the force that creates a lively environment even when all things prove other wise. Joy preserves, revitalizes, and rejuvenates.

Having been brought up in Africa, I was fortunate to be born into a family that was stable unlike other people in my neighbor hood. The pursuit of education and prosperity was a daily slogan that my mother used to emphasize. She believed that joy doesn’t come without material possessions. However, the daily experiences in the neighborhood made me realize that joy doesn’t depend on material possessions and that it is a major ingredient in finding a meaning to life.

Everyday, I would go to the dairy farm and watch the workers do their daily chores; with tattered clothes and bare feet, hence the heels of their feet had cracks like the grooves of new winter tires. They were moving back and forth in the farm feeding the cows, chopping grass, performing a multitude of daily chores. Looking at them and a little of their background, you would say that they never had a reason to smile. They were only concerned with their daily needs, never had plans for tomorrow or insurance to cover for future diseases; they neither had any form of savings nor checking account. Despite the deficiency of resources, the village was alive, with children playing, with women singing songs of joy, celebrating the great gift of life. Everyone seemed to understand that gladness of heart is the life of man and the joyfulness of man is length of days.

As I entered college, my father’s business started to stagger, hence throwing the whole family into economic confusion. Four of my siblings were in different first tier Universities in the country thus, further draining the resources that my parents had accumulated. Life became hard and the material backing seemed to weaken everyday as the needs increased. At times, I would go to college with just enough for transportation because I couldn’t put gas in my car. It wasn’t easy to live without allowances and sometimes it wasn’t easy using the crowded public transportation. For four years, everyday gave me a good reason to ask the common question, “why me”? Even though a lot of things would have gone wrong in that period, the life experiences that I learned from the village taught me never to spend time thinking about what I don’t have or what may go wrong. I learned to live every day at a time and be joyous no matter what came in my way. The audacity of joy overcomes the stigma of life’s sorrow and failures. So, I rejoice always!