My mission last week was to produce a photo that depicts joy. It would be one in a series for a photography competition entitled Three Graces: Beauty, Wonder, and Joy. I’d already assigned Beauty and Wonder from my previous works. For Joy, I was starting from scratch. What does joy look like? I wondered.
When you Google ‘joy’ you get images of people leaping with outstretched arms. You get laughing babies and sunrises, rainbow skies filled with butterflies or confetti. Try Googling it yourself. You will find a cacophony of bubble letters and bouncing people, nothing remotely resembling the elegance or refinement requisite of a grace.
I considered the picture I shot last year of my sister smiling over a full plate of food at a fancy restaurant. It had a joy I could relate to. But “joy is not dependent on external circumstances or material objects” (like food). I found that on the Internet too.
A photo of my dog standing high on a hill displayed a quiet joy that I have known myself. On sites like pursuitofajoyfullife.com they say that reaching a goal or accomplishing something is a good way to find joy. Suki, panting in the picture, had worked really hard to climb up that hill. But that, and the pictures of glorious day lilies, did not represent the humanness of a grace.
There would have to be a joyful person. This was disheartening as I had several joyful friends but none who like to be photographed and exposed all over Facebook and Twitter.
That meant it would be a selfie.
Time out — A message for my mom, as I can hear her hollering, “What’s a selfie?”
“Mom, go on Google.com and in the little box, you type ‘selfie’ and then click on ‘images’ and you will get thousands of pictures of people photographing themselves. There is no grace.”
All the slogans and headings from inspirational websites splashed around in my mind as I set the self-timer and stepped back from the camera. Joy is being content with your self. Feel happy. Forgive yourself. Find what is wonderful and amazing around you. Joy comes from within. Recycle your pain into joy… I held my head to keep the simple joy of being alive there. Finally, I thought of my daughter who died and how if she saw me now, she’d roll her eyes and say, “Mom. Seriously?”
Okay, I admit, this photo looks like I’m in pain. All over online, blogs talk about embracing pain to find joy. I welcome your suggestions. Let’s just call this a work in progress.
So, where did you find your joy this week? And how has the Internet influenced your concept of joy?