I was sitting at the traffic lights when he caught my eye. He stood there, with his dog, waiting to cross the road. Headphones in ears, leash in hand, he began to move. It started out a gentle nod of the head, presumably in response to the beat of the music. And then it evolved into a more active kind of dance. I could tell he was getting into the music, and it filled me with a complete sense of what could only be described as joy. I felt a smile spread across my face. And then I noticed another man, who had been standing nearby, also waiting to cross the road, starting to edge away from him. This only made me smile more, and by the time the lights changed, I was grinning from ear to ear.
As I drove on, I thought more about what I had just seen.
Why did it make me smile so much?
How did that young man feel so comfortable in his own skin, to just lose himself in his music?
Why did that other man seem so perturbed by it?
One of the things that I love about young children is their ability to do what makes them feel good, to listen to their inner voice that says “spin around in circles with your face to the sky” or “run and jump in that puddle, who cares about wet shoes!” Children, for the most part, don’t stop and think “is this socially appropriate?” They just do. And are they not joyous?
About a month ago, I was wandering through a local op-shop when a song came on the store radio that I loved. Now, I love to sing, but usually I save it for the car. As I walked around the store though, I began to sing softly - I just couldn’t help it. By the time the song reached the second chorus I was singing at a decent volume while browsing the books. An elderly lady approached and asked “do you like this song?” I nodded and told her it was a favourite. She smiled and said “Well you keep belting it out love, you’ve made my day.”
Did she say it because I am a gifted singer and she was enjoying my rendition of the song? Uh, I would say not! What I think she enjoyed was exactly what I later experienced as I sat at the traffic lights - infectious joy.
Children infect us with their joy every day. When they discover a tiny green caterpillar and their eyes grow wide with wonder. When they splash in puddles, shrieking with delight as their boots fill with water. When they combine fairy wings, and a hard hat and declare themselves ready to go shopping. When children are unreservedly themselves and are in a state of joy, that joy is infectious.
We need to catch the joy - make our own discoveries, jump in the puddles, and put on our own fairy wings and hard hats.