The Challenge of Joy

Rebecca - Ventura, California
Entered on January 8, 2009

I believe in a lot of things. I believe in true love and high adventure. I believe that one of the most important human virtues is simple kindness. I believe that a good sense of humour is essential to pretty much every situation I will ever encounter, and that the ability to laugh at good things, bad things, crap situations, and above all myself is possibly the best coping mechanism I’ll ever have. I believe that life is kind of a funny thing, but that that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work hard at it. I believe that there is something bigger than myself out there, and that has given me a sense of comfort and strength when I have been lonely, or scared, or hurt. I believe in rock and roll, and that music really can save your mortal soul. I believe that people are people and everything else – gender, race, age, background – is extra. I believe that it is your choices that make you who you are and that it is your choices and your actions by which people should judge you. I believe that there is always a choice.

I believe that the world is an amazing, beautiful, miraculous place, and that I am one of the luckiest people in the world to get a chance to see and enjoy so much of it. I believe that there is tragedy and sadness in the world, and that really, really bad things do happen all too often to good and innocent people, but that my answer to that can only be to enjoy the good things more and fight harder against the bad. I believe that the town I grew up in – the orchards and the hills and the ocean and the strawberry fields – will always be one of my favorite places in the world no matter where else I go, and will always be my home, no matter where else I live. I believe that childhood friends forge a connection that no relationship afterwards can match, and I believe that I am extremely lucky to still be close with so many of mine.

I believe in coincidences, and hard work, and passion, and persistence. I believe that there is literally nothing on this earth that cannot be made better if enough people are willing to work at it, and work hard. I believe that sacrifice is worthwhile.

To put it simply: I believe in joy.

I believe that to live life with joy doesn’t mean that you are ignoring bad things, it doesn’t mean you are in a state of blissful ignorance. Joy in the face of poverty, ignorance, global warming, death, and the million other things that haunt every minute of our lives is an act of strength. It is a declaration that you choose to fight, and struggle, and try to make things better, because things can and should be better. It is a choice to love not just one person or one thing, but everything. And above all, it is a confirmation of life. Joy is the open-eyed embrace of everything the world has, everything the world is, and everything the world can be.