Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Building a Mystery November 5, 2013

Mystery solved. Today, amidst a shared moment of joy from the ground up, I figured it out. Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

The epiphany happened during a game I invented to bring laughter into the Schmidt house at any given moment. The best part is my people never see it coming. If you’ve ever seen a dog initiate play with another dog, you’ll be able to picture it. The game begins with me with my butt in the air, tail wagging. Then mom or dad pretend to grab something out of thin air and hide it under a pillow or a blanket or even the kangaroo pocket on what they call a sweatshirt. Joy

And I always take the bait. I chase the invisible prize wherever it goes – under the pillows, through the blankets, inside the sweatshirt, I stop at nothing to claim victory. By the end, my people are as out of breath from laughing as I am from chasing.  It’s really quite the ruse.

I’m convinced my beloved people think this is all their idea. That they came up with this game, and that I must not realize its only air I’m chasing. And I can’t say I’d ever want them to think otherwise.

Because victory isn’t the invisible prize. No sir. It’s the laughter, the contagious joy, that happens in these precious silly moments. Tonight the moment lasted a good 10 minutes, which allowed me time to reflect on the mystery of the joy contagion.

“Joy is not in things,” German musician Richard Wagner suggested, “it is in us.”

It is oddly reflective of the chicken and the egg debacle. Which comes first, my happiness or the joy of my people? I solved the mystery tonight. Today, amidst a shared moment of joy from the ground up, I figured it out. Which comes first – the chicken or the egg? It doesn’t really matter. “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others,” beloved American first lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” Mystery solved.