Jam and Honey and Joie de Vivre

When I was in London last fall I got back into tea, and with it back in the habit of adding a spoonful of honey. London also rebooted my brain on the delight of spreading some of that honey or a great jam on a bit of bread or a scone. Small, commonplace joys sprinkled into the day. Europeans are much better at these things than Americans. Here we drive through a coffee shop and eat something out of a bag while commuting to work. Sometimes you don’t even see what you just ate. Cheap fuel with no joy at all. Hopefully you tipped the drive-through person?

The French long ago figured out the simple pleasure of being fully alive. Joie de vivre, the joy of living, is an expression but also a lifestyle pursued with zeal.  We’re all finding our stride with the joy of living right now, but I’ve seen plenty of evidence that joie de vivre is alive and well in the world. Zoom family calls, group text strings with old friends, Italians singing from balconies and drive-by celebrations of birthdays or just thanks for being in our lives.

When this collective sacrifice for the greater good of humanity ends, the stories of these moments won’t end, and neither will the memories. I miss connection with the everyday world, but find joie de vivre in smaller bites – or sips – now. Gently fold the very best small pleasures into the daily habits of your life and these little joys punctuate the moment. The joy of living is now, this moment right here, spread out over your life like honey on a bit of bread.

“Whisper, “I love you! I love you!” To the whole mad world.” – Hafiz

Isn’t that the whole idea of joie de vivre? Loving life and all the nooks and crannies in our days. Embrace the suck and get through it as best you can, celebrate the small joys and dance with life. Our time on the floor is limited. Maybe stop to celebrate the small bite of food you’re unconsciously nibbling on. Add a bit of sweetness and savor the gift of that morsel of food just a wee bit more. And find ways to make the bigger moments bigger.

Last weekend I visited my parents from six feet away. We had a bit of rum to celebrate the moment; them with their glasses, us with disposable paper cups on our side. Eye contact is important in such moments, and we fed energy across the fence and sipped spirits. We all miss the hugs and handshakes and kisses on the cheek, but we make the best of what’s still available. In this time of so much death and financial devastation, celebrate being alive in the smallest of ways. Whisper “I love you” to the whole mad world. For it really is a wonderful life.

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