Joy never comes alone for me. It always partners with fear, or guilt. On good days, I smile with caution. In case my laugh lets out a sound, I sigh out of fear. I was taught, “laughter follows cries”. Happiness is scary, it accompanies fear. It makes you pace with wonder whether pain has reached your doorstep. It makes you count on your fingertips how many days it has been since you haven’t seen the rage. Even when the lion’s caged, you’re always aware of its presence in the park. The possibility of it escaping the cage always makes your heart cautious. You’re always planning. Planning how you’re going to escape the park if the lion arrives. What you’re going to feed it to protect yourself-. You collect stones as you walk, that you’ll be using as weapons IF-. If.
Joy sometimes also accompanies guilt. How does one smile when witnessing the pain of those you love. You’re advised to close your eyes and not feel it. And sometimes you do wish to follow the advice - just to not experience the pain for once. But then- how would you be different from the ones causing pain?
Joy never visits alone. And though I'm grateful for the pleasure it evokes, my heart is always left serving the guests it brings with itself: guilt and fear.