Joie de Vivre
A very close friend of mine sent me a piece entitled Joie de Vivre written by a heart recipient who had been in desperate need. I read into it many of my own experiences, my hopes, my fears. For anyone who has not experienced the same journey, the same trials and tribulations, it may not have the same impact. It may not resonate or it may seem trite. To fully understand requires a degree of empathy that is rare to find in most people. It’s like being the bereaved at a funeral and having so many approach with the phrase “So sorry for your loss.” But you know when it is sincere. Unless you are one of those exceptional few who can walk in another’s shoes, the gestures, the downcast faces, the cards of reassurance and support are simply rituals designed to relieve the donor of their obligation, things one is expected to do.
When I embrace a friend who has suffered a loss, that is sincere and heartfelt. When they, in turn, give me space to deal with my obstacle, that is a sign of love and affection. Ritual has its place and it’s function. Understanding fills a need.
I believe I discovered my Joie de Vivre. I found it many years ago. But things keep trying to get in the way. Joie de Vivre requires focus and concentration. The ability to drive away all the distractions takes strength and determination and perhaps the occasional reminder.
Of late, I have been reminded many times. Each time the lesson is driven home a little harder and a bit deeper. I’m reminded of the time, while lying in a hospital bed, that the thought occurred to me that I could endure this further trial by making sure that I met everyone who came into my room with a smile and ensure that they left happier than when they entered. To my amazement, each time I tried this I was enriched.
Like the author of the piece in question, I find my Joie in writing, music, the passing seasons, the love of family and the companionship of close friends (although I might argue at his point of physiotherapy). All of these things supported me before I wandered down this stoney path. They’ve now all become more precious. I lean on them more than I once did.
As other distractions to my Joie have been removed by physical impediments, those that remain become more important, more piquant, more savoury. It’s strange how the absence of one thing can enhance another. The deaf can see with more clarity. The blind can detect aromas that the sighted pass by. The occasional brush with mortality makes a child’s cry, spring’s first robin, the sun on your face, things of exquisite beauty. I struggle to find new words to express my Joie over these things that before I had little time or patience for.
So I understand the essence of Joie de Vivre and while we each experience it to varying degrees, it is something we all need to fully recognize before it is too late.
The author has left the most essential part of his essay to the last.
He transitions from Joie de Vivre to Raison de Vivre. There can be no Joie without a Raison. We are not creatures governed solely by instinct. We need a reason, a purpose to fully appreciate the gift we have been given and it is only when faced with the threat of losing that magnificent gift we possess that we come to embrace that truth. It is only when we are faced with the Reason for our existence can we realize the Joy.
C’est La Vie