Catching Joy

I'm buckling my seat belt as the flight attendant walks past me on the four-seat-per-row plane. A young couple with a baby and a toddler situate themselves in the row in front of me. To my left, a father and daughter start watching Frozen together on a computer. It's December 2018 in Indianapolis, so the maintenance crew is taking extra time to de-ice the wings. I'm always okay with waiting if it means a safer flight. I'm in no rush. I've had a long day and I can't wait to settle in for a nap as I make my way home to Alabama.

My rest is short-lived. Ten minutes after take-off, the baby drags me out of my nap.

I'm used to the sighs of fellow passengers as they look at babies nearby like they would look at an alarm clock set for a few minutes from now. They don't want it to go off, but they know it could disturb their peaceful perusing of Sky Mall Magazine's latest tech at any moment. I know the parents want nothing more than for their kids to have a peaceful, quiet plane ride. This would not be a quiet ride.

I wake up from the nap I so longed for and can't help myself--I grin ear-to-ear and start laughing.

The baby started it. She had begun to giggle as her mom played with her.

It started quietly, then grew into this cackling fit of delight. For fifteen minutes the baby kept laughing.

This wave of joy spread like a ripple to everyone around the baby. Fellow passengers looked at each other and started laughing. Soon the entire back half of the plane was cracking up, relishing the beauty of a baby's laughter.

Joy is contagious. And if we let our guard down long enough to catch it, it gets magnified.

Catching joy lets it seep into your bones. You let yourself feel the joy in the moment instead of brushing it aside. But it's not just big moments full of anticipation; it's the little ones too. Beautiful flowers on a routine shopping trip you hadn't noticed before. A cool breeze on a warm summer evening. When I notice these little things, I can't help but appreciate the many blessings in my life.

As I disembarked from the plane back in 60-degree Mobile, Alabama, I felt warm, but not because of the weather. I knew that with just a little mindset change, I could look for and find joy not just in big, highlight-reel events, but in countless tiny, everyday moments. Moments that make up this beautiful, messy mosaic of my life. If I looked hard enough, I could now find joy in all of them. 

That’s a beautiful sight.


Thanks to Compound Writing members Steven O, Lyle M, Dan H, Rajat M, Ryan W, Vandan J, and Angelo for reading drafts of this.