What Joy Looks Like…

We adults forget…

 There is a wonderful fountain next to the reflecting pool at the Christian Science Plaza. A ring of apertures in the ground send a circle of crisscrossing five foot arcs of cool water into the air. On a warm day, large numbers of children of all ages, the young ones accompanied by parents, the older ones on their own, come to the fountain to seek respite from the heat and to play in the waters.

 One day recently I took my G9 (which I call the “Toy” camera) to the plaza and sat around for about an hour taking pictures of people enjoying this water feature. Mind you, I could have taken one of my other bodies and a pro level lens but for something like this, the G9 is just right. It is small enough so that it doesn’t intimidate folks, most don’t take it that seriously and I’m less likely to have someone walk over and ask why I’m taking pictures of the younger children. These days, with the daily media onslaught of incidences of perversion and foul deeds, everyone is so xenophobic that sadly my simple act of taking a picture can turn into a tense and unpleasant encounter in a heartbeat. The G9 however falls just below the radar screen and I was not harassed the whole time.

 There were many people of various ages in the fountain this day. One fellow was well on the long side of middle age. There were several teens who stayed for quite a while considering the fidgetiness of that age group. A young black family dropped by, the father getting quite doused while gently introducing his young daughter to the water so that she wouldn’t be afraid. And then gently showing her how to splash in the water and be cooled. Another youngster played the water like she was conducting an orchestra.

 But then a young woman arrived with her two sons. She was slim and relatively youthful, a small but visible tattoo on one shoulder and wearing an easy smile. She showed a lighthearted spirit, laughed readily and was clearly as much a friend to her children as she was a mother. The older son was clearely striving toward independence and early manhood. (If I were to guess, I’d say this was a single parent family with the father having opted out of his responsibilities.) The younger son however was the one who captured my eye.

 He was the vision of wonder and joy. Truly “in the moment”. His expression spoke of the “rapture” that enlightened spirits seek through religious discipline while the less developed try to find in a bottle or drugs. He was 100% there and that fountain was the most wonderful thing he had ever experienced. He ran through the water and laughed out loud. He stood right in the arcs and laughed some more. He let the water run on his tush… and he laughed. He was so full of happiness that he did a little dance several times, sometimes in the water and sometimes out of it. His pants got waterlogged and fell down. He laughed some more. (Mommy came over and pulled them up so that he wouldn’t trip. He was wearing real underwear and obviously beyond the potty training stage. His happiness was truly infectious. I broke out in a grin and stayed that way. He literally “made my day!” 

We adults forget.

We get bound up in our crisis hopping, solution seeking, jaded survival techniques. Frankly, I think everyone, even the most dedicated curmudgeons, should spend at least 15 minutes a day with a young child. Just so they can experience and remember what true joy looks like.

1 Response to “What Joy Looks Like…”

  1. July 8, 2009 at 12:01 am

    When my nephew and niece were younger (they are late teenagers now) I played with them in the fountain at Post Office Square and at Harvard’s Science Center. They were joyful for hours. Good to remember the simple things.

    Thanks for reminding me.

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June 2009

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All Photographic Images ©Arni Cheatham, Segami Images and Eyes and Ears, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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