Joie de vivre is a French saying for having a general feeling of excitement for life.
It could be for food, writing, conversation with others, partying, walking, raising a family, philosophy, gardening, solving math problems, playing, dancing to music, making love.
Whatever it is, it’s a feeling of excitement for what one’s doing.
A delight in being alive.
Everyone knows someone who’s got this feeling.
I have it. The people I most enjoy spending time around have it.
Whatever happens, I can feel my essence coming alive.
Sure some things spark it more than others.
Perhaps the main one being surprise.
Despite all my seeking of knowledge and the good feeling of “being in the know”, surprise is still high on my list of favourite feelings.
To go for a walk and meet someone on a chance encounter.
Or even the general feeling of entering a situation and knowing that something is going to happen, whatever that something is.
The fun would fade if I knew what it was.
And even if something doesn’t happen (which is impossible because something always happens), the contrast between fear and excitement makes the hairs on my arms stand up.
A toddler can stare for what feels like hours at someone playing peek-a-boo. Their smile widening and cheeks tensing with each weird face coming out from behind the hands.
And that feeling of joy never fades.
For I still feel the same joy of the unknown when I wake up in the morning or enter a conversation with a stranger or a loved one or think about what to cook for dinner.
My favourite people are those with an unshakable sense of joie de vivre.
They paint the world in colour. And like adding lemon zest to the sauce, they bring out the flavour in the things.
With such an excitement for life one might think such a person to be an angel.
Yes, but not always.
The people who are only angels are a bore.
For the spice comes with variety.
Can a unicorn not be joyful prancing through clouds of rainbows?
A dragon by breathing fire and flying through the night sky?
A werewolf howling at the moon?
A horde of cyclops whacking each other with their clubs?
Or a sea serpent swimming deeper than ever before?
Such creatures might sound grandiose.
But is joie de vivre, a general feeling of excitement for life, not the same as living in a fairytale?
A young child gets to feel the magic of listening to a fairytale for the first time (though the best stories always feel as if somewhere deep down you’ve heard it before). But an adult who chooses to approach life with a sense of joie de vivre gets to relive them.
And I’ve found far more truth in fiction books than most textbooks.
For where are the textbook chapters on fun and gaiety?
But despite the enjoyment that comes from hearing or reading a good story, I enjoy being part of the story more. The same with being around people who prefer to be part of the story rather than be told it.
On the other end, one of the chief crimes in life is to take away someone’s joie de vivre.
Getting someone excited for something and then stealing it away.
Or worse, pulling the trick of false joy.
Inviting a woman out for a nice dinner, letting her feel the excitement of getting dressed, looking nice, meeting you and sharing a meal but never arriving.
The whole thing a show.
Many other charlatan-like situations can follow the same path.
Building someone up to later pull the rug. Of which the rug puller may feel a sense of pseudo-joie de vivre for having stolen someone else’s instead of true joie de vivre which comes from sharing it instead of taking it away.
I can understand the need for such events but never to those undeserving.
The worst people are those who corrupt the best.
However, the good news is anyone with a real sense of joie de vivre can shrug such situations off.
If you lack it, find people who have it. It’s contagious.
You’ll know when you do.
A detectable aura hovers around them.
They give off enough crazy energy their spirit will etch itself in yours like a nostalgic smell, the human equivalent of fresh baked cookies.