You may be feeling that joy is in short supply at the moment, even as we move into the most officially joy-laden time of the year. But maybe that makes it even more important to recognise, or look for, or remember all the things that do bring you joy.
Over the years, I have noticed three particular things that always make me happy – YMMV and yours will probably be different. Of course.
The first one is probably the one I get to experience most frequently. It’s the easiest one to get – and the cheapest, and the most reliable in many ways. It’s reading a book by someone I’d never heard of and finding it absolutely wonderful. It’s reading a book so good that you want to run off to the bookshop (OK, snatch up your phone and log straight in to Amazon, if you must) to find out what else that particular author has written, and how quickly you can grab and read the lot. I used to acquire books from a couple of cheap-as-chips remainder sellers near me: it was always worth gambling a quid or so on something that looked vaguely interesting; nowadays I sometimes strike similar gold in charity shops. Part of the fun is never knowing what you might be about to find.
Next on the list is seeing a great band you previously knew nothing about. I have been to see a lot of bands over the years – and this is a matter of smalltime gigs in pubs and clubs, mostly, not well-promoted festivals with decent line-ups. Most of the time, bands you’ve never heard of in a venue you stumbled into by mistake are, at best, competent covers players. But now and again, someone rolls up on the stage, starts playing, and the whole venue leaps into the air with joy because that band is amazing.
The final one is probably the most author-specific and, just like the other two, it’s pure joy because you never know when it’s going to happen, and you do know you have to wade through a certain amount of crap before you hit the gold. It’s that moment when you’re working on a story or a novel, and it’s kind of OK and you’re quite enjoying the writing, and the characters are starting to talk in your head… and then, out of the blue, some concept just occurs out of nowhere and you know that, if you do this with the plot, then everything will just fall into place, and you might find that you have, not just a pretty good book, but a great one.
What things make you suddenly feel life is a lot more worth living? Stick them in the comments if you are so inclined. As it is very nearly midwinter, I might even managed to get off my arse enough to send some sort of prize to the most interesting answer. (Don’t wear yourselves out, it probably won’t be much more than the statutory bag of Haribo…)