Keeper of Joy

By Kayli Harley, TIWP Student

It’s not being in charge of my life that scares me. What scares me is that being the keeper of my fate means I am the keeper of my joy, too. 

Pain is easy to hold. It’s not easy to carry, but it fits in my hands just so, like a clay cast. And when something is easy to hold we tend to take it with us, reluctant to detach from it. I’ve held it for so long, I am used to seeing my hands this way. I am used to the weight. 

But joy…joy is untamable and light and so warm that it’s startling. You cannot hold joy; it isn’t something with a form. But it is nice to carry. It’s not heavy or uncomfortable. But how do you carry something you can’t hold? How can you control the uncontrollable?

You feel joy. I argue we feel it more than pain and we just don’t know because joy isn’t selfish. Joy doesn’t appear with a label on a uniform. It just overcomes you and smiles as you smile. It presses a palm to your chest ever so gently and suddenly you feel more connected to the idea of living than you thought was possible. But you aren’t thinking of joy when it comes because joy reminds you how to feel before you think. Joy doesn’t need you to know its name, it just needs you to know its presence.

But pain is selfish, and you know when it’s there. You know its name. You know that it’s pain you are carrying. It doesn’t take much to find the pain and keep it, but it’s something else entirely to capture the joy and convince it to stay. 

So when you tell me my fate is only mine, I am not thinking of fate. 

Because even though joy isn’t selfish, it won’t stay unless you want it to. Even though joy isn’t selfish, it knows that you need to pull your weight. Joy won’t last unless you create it, unless you will it. I guess joy is only as untamable as you. And of course you can’t hold it when your hands are caked in clay. Even if you caught it, would you choose to let it stay?

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