So I have been thinking a lot about the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fickle and conditional. It is also completely temporary and pursuing happiness requires you to get an even bigger fix the next time in order to chases that high. Happiness provides you with one lasting thing: the desire for more happiness. Ultimately you never learn anything from the pursuit of happiness other than your need to be happy becomes the purpose in which you have built your life.
Joy, on the other hand is not conditional in that sense. You can have joy inspite of the conditions or stipulations you have in your life. Joy has perspective. Whereas happiness focuses on ‘Right Now,’ joy is built looking at the entire picture. Joy leaves you with contentment and resolve and comfort; and it also involves others and changes your focus to things outside your own desires.
This has been a struggle for me recently. The Thursday before my daughter was born, we found out that she only had a single artery in her umbilical cord. Wikipedia says that less than 1% of all births exhibit this, and our doctor actually said it’s closer to .3% of all births. 75% of the time things are okay, but 25% of the time things get really rocky (I mentioned this in my last journal.)
So last Sunday my daughter was born. I was thrilled, but the look of concern on the nurse’s face really got to me. She pulled on my daughter’s arms and legs and looked at the doctor. I know enough to know that she’s checking for reflexes and that my daughter failed something on the initial test. I also knew that, just by looking at her, that she had fluid pockets around her neck. I had been concerned about Turner Syndrome because a friend of mine’s daughter had it and it was fresh in my mind. She was a big baby, didn’t have webbed fingers or toes, didn’t have odd features, but still...I was worried.
I tried to maintain a positive outlook, until the pediatrician came and told us that they were concerned about the folds in her neck as well as the low muscle tone. They wanted to do some chromosome tests. I agreed.
So we’ve been waiting for a week to get the results back, and have yet to hear from them. But this is what has made me contemplate happiness and joy. There have been several times over the past week where I have not been happy. Hell, I’ve wept openly a number of times (once by myself waiting for carry out at Chili’s.) I began to be overwhelmed with all the things going through my head; worried about Turner Syndrome, or CP, or MD and imagining how hard my baby girl’s life was going to be if we got a diagnosis. But as I have sat and pondered these things, I am constantly reminded that joy is still present. I am sad and scared, but still, even as I write this while my daughter is asleep next to me, I have joy. I have perspective. If all I did was focus on if I was happy or not than it would be difficult to find this joy. Joy isn’t loud like happiness and it doesn’t ‘feel’ like it. It’s much subtler and mature, but seeing this life, regardless of any possible complications she may have I know it is still “worth it.”
I love you Mayleigh Michele.