19 May 2014

High heels and the gift of joy

This afternoon I felt as dull as the weather, so I decided to put on my coat and joggers and go for a walk in the park. Even on a grey day a walk can help to make me feel brighter.

As I was passing the band-stand, I could see a young couple in wedding clothes coming towards me. The groom in his black suit was manfully carrying the bride across the wet grass (fortunately she was a slender thing), with a photographer snapping along behind them.

Further on I met the rest of the bridal party, four girls in gauzy dresses and high, high heels, tottering along trying to avoid the puddles and slippery leaves. I smiled at them as I passed and one of them said “We envy you your shoes!” and they all laughed.

After they’d gone I felt lighter in heart thinking about them. But I also felt something more than that, a sudden brief twinge of joy, as though I’d just had a glimpse of something not quite of this world. I wanted to share what I’d seen and felt with others. But then it occurred to me that joy is very difficult to share.

I could tell you all about what I saw in much greater detail than I'm doing, but I can’t convey what I felt. Perhaps I can make you smile, but I can’t make you feel joy. You would have had to be there to experience the whole incongruity of a bridal party in all their finery puddling through a wet park on Monday afternoon. And even then you might not have felt what I felt.

It’s like when someone shows you a photo of their newborn child or grandchild. You know that their hearts are singing just looking at the photo for the thousandth time, but all you see is a normal looking baby.

Some people seem to bubble over with joy, and those who meet them say “I want what she’s got”. But even those people can’t share the joy itself. We can show others where to look for joy but it’s not a gift that’s ours to give. Which is perhaps just as well.

Photo credit: gazzat / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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