#3 - What brings you joy?
About 15 years ago, a time when my class teacher had sandwiched “Aman is very timid” in her overall assessment of me on my year report card, I didn’t like people visiting my home. I wanted that space only for me and my family. If you think that’s weird, I’m just getting started. I was that kid who had to be specifically told to come outside the room to meet the visitors and greet them. I found a template for the bare minimum set of things that I needed to do before I could rush back into my room:
touch their feet if they are elder or wave them “hi” otherwise
try to force out a smile, and
wait for 1 minute
Except for one relative who would always bring a dairy milk chocolate for me and my brother each. For him, I would stay as long as it took until that chocolate was mine.
After a few years, my brother and I joined a cricket academy. Through an unexpected turn of events, I ended up contesting for being a wicketkeeper. Being a fielder towards whom the ball never came was one of the only things that I disliked about the game. This put me right in the driver's seat. For every single ball. The start of every inning used to be my favorite moment. The thought of the new, hard leather ball, traveling at 110 km/hr, just missing the edge of the batsman’s blade and flying straight into my gloves while I watched it enter them still gives me the chills. Every time I was involved in a dismissal, it would be one of the most thrilling moments I could describe. Now when I think about it, I know that I wouldn’t feel even half of this if the people whom I played with were not my friends. I wasn’t particularly good at batting but I remember this one moment when I hit a cover drive with the ball leaving the middle of my bat, to a fast bowler in my academy whom I really admired and I just stood there while the ball went to the boundary. I still hold that moment close to my heart.
Last week, I stood staring as one of my childhood friends put the wedding garland over his childhood love. It was one of the happiest moments that I’d experienced in a while and I can’t imagine what the two of them might have felt at that moment, after everything they’d gone through together. The 4 days that I spent at my friend’s wedding got me really thinking about what I truly find joy in. “Joy”, as a word, doesn’t really come up in our everyday conversations and there is likely no single answer for what gives us joy. If there was one, I think it’d be a shame given everything that this world and our life have to offer. The answer doesn’t necessarily have to be constant throughout our lives. But I think this question deserves some pondering from time to time.
During my childhood, we didn’t really know what are the trends. We didn’t know a lot about what everyone else wanted. So, there was more room for us to discover and do the things that we indeed did find joyful. Today, that is a very tall order. There is one trend or the other coming towards us even when we don’t ask for it. Being social creatures, we are biologically hardwired to want what others want as it had its evolutionary benefits and continues to do so. There is even a term for it: memetic desire.
Memetic desire has its place. But, I don’t want it to be the only desire that I have. For example, it is hard for me to explain this to those who don’t feel the same but I really enjoy being by myself in my own room. For a lot of people, adventures happen out there in the physical world. And I love to partake in some of them too. But there are many other voyages that I like to go on that are best done within the four walls of my room, with the lights being dimmed and some soothing music.
Similarly, there are other desires that are just mine, not borrowed from someone else. I want to discover them. Spend more time pursuing them and letting myself bask in the shower of joy that they offer to me.
What is one non-memetic desire that truly brings you joy?