a wish for you in 2014



I once heard one person say about another:

She had a capacity for deep joy.

That struck me. In fact, I thought it was goddamn beautiful.

Could somebody say that about me, I wondered, and a thought rose in response:

Maybe not so much.

Even back then, I sensed a difference between happiness and joy.

Happiness is related to your circumstances. It ebbs and flows with the external forces of your life.

Joy goes deeper.

Joy is when you’re tapped into something that threatens to blow up your heart.

You have to be prepared to let it. You have to open yourself up to the dangerous bliss of love and connection and belonging. You have to open yourself up to a moment that you know will end soon and never come again.

To know joy is to know the loss of joy; to know the deep carved-out pain of loss. You can’t have one without the other.

Joy, then, is a straight-up act of courage.

I haven’t always been so courageous.

We’re a strange bunch, us humans; we will do ridiculous things to feel more alive even as we do our best to numb our feelings through (drink, drugs, sex, shopping, Internet, work, television, sugar, video games [insert preferred vice here]….)

We want to think positive and disown the icky crappy stuff; we act as if it’s our prerogative to feel good all the time. We consider ourselves failed and/or defective when we can’t manage to do this. But you can’t stomp out bits and chunks of your emotional life without killing off the rest. It’s an all-or-nothing kind of deal.

Every scar has a story to tell, a path to beauty and meaning.

The light and the dark define each other.

She had a capacity for deep joy means, to me, she could feel her feelings and not get run over by them. She could open herself to the world without being destroyed by it. She knew that when life sent her underground, she would find what she needed to rise, and her capacity for joy would get that much deeper and able to hold that much more. She was committed to a life of courage. In order to feel fully alive, she was prepared to allow herself to feel.

I wish you a fabulous 2014. May your year be filled with love and cake and cashmere and adventure and great sex and gratitude and bravery and coffee and books and movies and dogs and kindness and trips to the beach and shoes and, most of all, joy.

I wish you joy.

Jan 3, 2014

11 comments · Add Yours

Loved reading this. So true. Thank you.


And I wish you great joy. All the way up to the moon and back. Happy 2014, Justine.


always so glad to hear from both of you, Hannah and Amara. Thank you.


Beautiful,it stirred me..


“Joy is when you’re tapped into something that threatens to blow up your heart.” –> Maybe the most important sentence I’ve read in over a decade.


Well said, Justine. I just read this aloud to my (new) husband, because you’re right. I did not have the capacity for joy until I suffered and returned from great loss. That feeling I could not describe (not happiness, kinda gratitude, a lightness, serious unexplained emotion) leading up to and during my wedding was deep joy. Thank you. And thank you for continuing to nail it with these posts! Wishing you the best.


The last commenter hit a key point there. Suffering or loss has a way of deepening our capacity for joy. :)


Thank you! I wish you and your readers the capacity for great joy as well.


I wish the same for you. Your writing always stirs at my heart and/or makes me think…two very important things! I never really thought about there being a difference between happiness and joy until reading this. It is so true.


Sometimes its just easier just take the last name as a joy and try to live w it :)
kevin joy, Detroit


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