Lost on the way to the City of Joy

Whenever I thought about joy, bliss, ecstasy, call it what you will, the image I had was of a golden city in the distance; I was always on my way there. I felt as if joy was something missing from my life. I believed everyone else apart from me was, if not full of joy, then at least happy. Was it me, and if so, what was I missing, or not doing right? Whenever I was at the top of a hill on my journey I was filled with hope and joy because the goal didn’t seem far away. When I hit rock bottom, at first I’d be lost in the shadows; then as my journey continued I’d be sustained by the hope that I had a destination in sight and mind.

But as I’ve continued on my journey, I’ve come to realise that I was so focused on my destination that I’d forgotten about my reasons for making the journey in the first place - and I’d also forgotten myself, the traveller. I never asked myself what was so important about joy, who I was, and how I would be different once I reached the city of joy. I’d always thought that everything would be good, full of bliss, joyful once I reached my destination. But in reality, what would have changed and how would reaching the city of joy change me? Would I be more joyful or living in constant ecstasy?

Looking back I can see the paths I’ve followed. Along the paths are both mementos to mark my passing, scattered objects that at the time I “had to have” because they would make me a happier man, complete me, or give me joy, and also battlegrounds where I’d overcome my personal adversaries.

Looking forward I can see my destination. I am part way between what was and what will be; I realise that another question for me is “What am I travelling to and why?” For possibly the first time I look at myself and realise that just by undertaking my journey I have changed - and I am, in some ways, closer to joy. I’d started my journey wanting to be different, improved, a better man, happier - and I’d believed that entry to the city of joy would give me these things. Once again, focusing on something outside me to get joy, happiness, bliss.

Now I’ve come to see that I have changed, and some of the things I’d set off in search of I now have, while others - like the city of joy - are getting closer. Looking at myself I can see both the shadows that I’ve carried and the light reflected from the city shining on my face. Perhaps it isn’t as far as I thought…. and maybe I am stronger than I thought; ready to walk another day, ready to do battle with another adversary until I turn a corner and realise that the city of joy has been there all along, while I just wasn’t ready to enter its gates. A happy man at home in the city of joy!

On the path to the oasis of joy

There are many mirages on the path to the oasis of joy,

solid and strong until you lean upon them

There are many mirages on the path to the oasis of joy,

cool and comforting until you reach for them

There are many mirages on the path to the oasis of joy,

loving and nurturing until you embrace them

There are many mirages on the path to the oasis of joy,

seductive and entrancing until you name them

There are many mirages on the path to the oasis of joy,

Real and true until you fix your sight on the true goal.

Shaky S