At a time when so many around the globe face daily hardships, it may feel trivial to focus a discussion around joy. But joy is perhaps what sustains us — it’s what puts a smile on our faces, connects us with each other, and helps us to see life from a brighter, more positive perspective.
Material goods or money are not a prerequisite, as joy is often found at the least expected times and in the most unanticipated places. So how do we embrace joy, especially when faced with disappointment, hardship, or sadness? Is it possible to capture and sustain that feeling?
How do we incite joy within ourselves?
In his latest collection of essays and poems, “Inciting Joy,” author Ross Gay ponders the kinds of experiences that have touched his life and brought him joy. Jonathan Bastian talks with Gay about his insights on joy and why joy became the topic for inquiry in his latest collection of essays and poems. From pickup basketball games and skateboarding to fighting injustice and caring for his dying father, Gay ponders the sources of joy in his life and explains the many ways in which joy and sorrow are are deeply intertwined.
“My hunch is that joy emerges from our common sorrow, which does not necessarily mean we have the same sorrows, but that we in common sorrow might draw us together,” Gay writes in his book’s introduction. “It might depolarize us and de-atomize us enough that we can consider what in common we love. And though attending to what we hate in common is too often all the rage and it happens also to be very big business, noticing what we love in common and studying that, might help us survive. It's why I think of joy, which gets us to love as a practice of survival."