Last month I attended Disneyland to watch my daughter perform with the Southern California Middle School Jazz All-stars. As I hung out just inside the entry gate waiting for others in my party to enter, I noticed a young boy, maybe six or seven years of age, sprint through the gate with so much determination and energy that I thought he might continue down Main Street, run right through the castle and bust out the back of the park before he realized what he was doing. Instead, after a few steps inside the park, he stopped, clinched his fists tightly, extended his arms down the sides of his body, bent his knees, closed his eyes, and exploded upwards, arms raised, feet flaying, face red, eyes wide open and screamed at the top of his lungs, “I…AM…AT…DISNEYLAND!”
I thought the economy jazz tent at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was the happiest place on earth, but maybe it really is Disneyland. That boy expressed joy and happiness in its purest form. It looked like he would spontaneously explode or at least need an 8-hour nap. I stood there in amazement at the boy’s exuberance and thought about the last time I felt the same way about anything and either wanted to show, or did show, the pure form of happiness that I had just witnessed. Sure, I have been extremely happy in my adult life. My wedding, the birth of my children, and watching that a-hole who was tailgating me in the carpool lane get pulled over for having no passengers in his car have all brought me extreme joy, but even during those times, when I did show my happiness, I did not do so in such a pure, I-don’t-care-what-I-look-like-or-what-anyone-else-thinks-of-me form. Maybe I did as a child as I’m sure I was that happy on more than one occasion. The first time I went to Disneyland, learned how to ride a bike, or thought I had caught Santa Claus in my living room are all potentials for extreme happiness as a child, but the memories are more about the moments and not how I reacted to those moments. It could be the case that we are not capable of remembering such purity of emotion. I don’t know. I wonder if that boy will remember that moment. I hope he does.
Some questions for you:
1. When was the last time you showed that much joy in public or private? What was it that brought you that joy and how did you express it?
2. As adults, is it even possible to feel pure joy? If so, are we capable of expressing it?
As always, I would love to hear from you.