poetry

The Difference Between Happiness And Joy. {poetry}

To feel joy

Is not to wrap myself in the blank word

The blanket

Of happiness

It is not

Swaddling and pulling so tightly

That my toes turn blue

From the force of my longing

 

But it’s okay because

I’m happy

Or I am going to be

With that

Next party

Next friendship

Next next thing

 

Happiness

A word stuffed full of expectation

So stuffed

It is a landfill

Bursting open with garbage bag disappointments

 

The idea of it

The mania of it

All upswing, no downswing

All up and up and up

 

Where is the descending arc?

The fall?

Like the season, it’s going to come

 

And I can kick my heels and scream No No

I have to be happy

If I am not happy, I have not done my duty as a North American

I have not been performing to my peak level of functioning

Everyone else seems so content

Seems

But let’s pick apart their

Seams

Their threads

On the internet that tell their tale

 

Forget happiness

It’s an illusion

Patched together

In movie magic illuminated scene pops

And Wite-Out smiles

 

It’s not the real world

I think: I can have that

I can possess happiness

Like a pet newt

Hold it close

And suffocate it in my clammy-handed ferocity

My grasping hand needs one thing

One thing only

Happy

 

The books

How to Be happy

Happiness 101

Be happy in 30 days

Be hip hop happening happy in a blink of an eye

A wiggle of a bottom

Put a pencil between my teeth

So I smile

Trick my body

My mind into thinking I am happy with false inputs

 

God, I am sick of the word happy

Because it zeroes in on one thing

My failure to be it

Always

Perpetually

Without break, like a worker without rights

Slaving under the Big Boss

The Big Happy

 

I’d rather be comrades with joy

Not elation

Not ecstatic

But joie de vivre

 

Joy is conceivable

Think not as emotion

But as being

 

It is simply to enjoy

Not as: wow, this is the best thing ever

But as: I can appreciate even this anger

Even this depression

 

Joy sees the squirming black legs of despair

And flips them over

Into a red ladybug

And fear has nothing to squawk at anymore

 

Joy does not bully like the assembly line of happiness

Into the conformity of good and only good

Feelings

All the time

Every time, and reject any defects

Any cracks in my smile

 

Joy recognizes the beauty

In contrast

The red against the black

The blue following the yellow

The beauty of things morphing into other things

 

There is room for change in joy

 

But happiness is rigid

Like a popsicle stick

Sticky with the juice of desire

It snaps under pressure

Splintering when the neon orange sweetness is gone

 

In Joy there is no fix

Each moment appears Whole

and leaves Whole

 

An egg waiting to hatch

Bring forth life

Responding to the warmth of your heart

 

Do I throw away the egg, saying:

No, I wanted a bird?

A bird of paradise

And not this round brown thing

 

Do I miss out on the big picture

Because I am in pursuit of perfection?

 

Big overblown happiness

A bag full of wind

 

Or do I choose joy?

In all moments

Upswing

Downswing

Upriver

Downriver

On a train

On a plane

eating green eggs and ham

I am

In merely one possibility of the spectrum

One band of the rainbow

Scintillating constantly

Red, yellow, violet

I accept

I choose joy.

***

AliceDolphinAlice Dolphin is a human being grappling with the intense fear and anxiety that comes from growing up as a human doing. Poetry and art bring relief into her life, as do drinking in nature and bathing in the sun. She intends to one day live in a cottage by the sea, devoting herself fully to her art and laughing every day. You can discover more of her writing and art on her website.

***

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