The other day, over dinner, someone asked me, “What brings you joy?” I was caught off guard by the question (despite having asked it many times to near-strangers myself). I responded, “Well, right now, I think what brings me joy is creating things–writing, making music, resurrecting my inner artist.”
The thing that brings me the most joy is teaching. Nothing has yet come close to the natural high I get from that. Yet, I didn’t say “teaching”. Perhaps because I was sitting at a table with 3 university professors, I didn’t feel license to name my deepest joy as something that very much characterizes their lives and not mine (at the moment).
Creating things brings me joy in the sense that I feel in tune with myself, and I feel a delightful sense of possibility–making something out of nothing. But I rarely feel skilled enough to actually manifest the things I imagine, and my lack of technical proficiency in any medium of expression frustrates and paralyzes me. (So, I post pictures of my dog on Instagram instead.)
Presumably, if I practiced and worked at it, I would get better, and maybe that would encourage me to create more. Maybe if I knew that someone other than me cared about my art, I would feel compelled. (That is the cart before the horse, I suppose. How can anyone care about something that doesn’t exist? Why should anyone care about what I haven’t done?) Do I believe in my own art enough to make it for just for the sake of making it, though? For my own joy?
I think there’s something to be said for having people in your life that see your potential, your gifts or talents, and summon them. They notice them. They name them. They ask for them. I aimless and disheartened. I have an overwhelming feeling of unimportance–like whatever I do or do not do on any given day is largely inconsequential. I wish I knew what I had to offer the world at this time in my life. I think that would bring me great joy.