“I love being home with you,” I told the dog, when everyone I knew was out somewhere having fun, and I was feeling antsy with nowhere to go. “But now let’s find something beautiful and joyful to photograph. Something besides you,” I said, and followed her flickering tail around the pond, stopping to take pictures of the water and wildflowers. A colossal pink cloud floated overhead. I snapped a dozen shots of it, awed by its rosiness.
The cloud would be a perfect illustration of joy, I thought. After weeks of watching the garden dry up in the drought, after howling my grief songs and driving people mad trying to move boulders, I desperately wanted to blog about something joyful. So that night I stayed up late, turned on the TV, made popcorn, poured a glass of sherry, pulled over a cozy chair for the dog, and began playing with the image of the pink cloud. And over the weekend, I missed a picnic and passed on a dinner invitation, as I Photo-shopped the cloud in the water, in my face, around a lone girl. I Photo-shopped the heck out of that cloud.
Then, I Googled “pink cloud” to get an idea of why I was so taken with the cloud, and what I might write about it. But there was no joy in any of the articles listed. It was a term used in alcohol and addiction recovery programs to refer to “unrealistic feelings of well-being and happiness experienced during times of despair.” It represented “ignoring life’s problems in a dangerous euphoria,” … “flight from reality.”
I looked at the picture I’d spent hours composing. I looked at the dog. And then I had to consider that maybe I’m the one walking around with my head in a pink cloud, convinced I’m solidly planted on a sure path to healing.
Where is joy?