Joy and happiness

Published 8:51 pm Monday, December 11, 2017

Leo Buscaglia, philosopher, professor, counselor and my mentor, tells us, “Nothing but life itself is necessary for humans to know joy and happiness.”

Joy and happiness are something most all of us want to achieve in our lives. Yet, so often we miss it. And why?

I think we miss it because we forget that we make our own happiness. We define it for ourselves and experience in it our own unique way. We never stop to think that nothing in this world which can be given or denied us will bring us joy unless we decide it.

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The natural result of happiness and joy is laughter. When we laugh with others, we bypass reason and logic. Clowns do this. Laughter, I believe, is a universal language much like music.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta, one of my lifetime heroins, required her hospital ward be filled with laughter. She said laughter is the strongest force toward health.

When I found out our Joy Ride last week would take us to the Butter Fly Pavilion some 30 minutes from here, I felt a jolt of joy inside.

All my life I have loved the exquisitely beautiful butterfly and I knew I would be surrounded by them at the Pavilion. Of course, I not only signed up to go, but did so already feeling a sense of joy.

The minute I stepped inside that huge enclosure, I almost laughed out loud. Being from the deep south, it was like stepping back into home and the feel of air I’m used to.

It was very warm and just next to raining it was so humid. I loved it! I could almost feel my hair start to curl and skin start to heal.

It is like a forest maze. Certain kinds of trees and ferns and bushes were everywhere with a single path way through it all. It was a butterfly heaven.

As hundreds of them flew high and low, I could almost feel their joy, born of freedom and safety.

More than anything I wanted one to rest on my arm or shoulder and tell me how they felt in their paradise. Alas, not one did this.

Thinking if I sat down and was still, I might be blessed with a visit, I sat away from any other people and waited.

Then I realized my joy was dependent upon a butterfly landing on me. I knew better, but still quietly waited. Then it happened.

Absently, I looked up. Right above me was a rafter and on that rafter sat a small silver-colored dove. She was just hanging out and exuded a sense of peace about her. As I watched, you will never guess what happened.

A magnificent bright blue Monarch butterfly flew to the dove and landed atop her head. I was spellbound.

The dove seemed happy to have the company on her head, just like a candle light sparkles, my own joy filled me up.

It was far better than having one land on me. I had shared in the happiness of the moment.

In fact, it’s been more than a week since we were at the Butterfly Pavilion and the vision of that little silver-feathered dove with the deep blue Monarch on her head remains in my mind still.

As Leo Buscaglia said, “Nothing but life itself is necessary for humans to know joy and happiness.”

I believe it.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.