Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy….
— Ps. 16:11
I was rifling through Neil Diamond videos on YouTube tonight when I came across one that reminded me of the most amazing moment of my life:
The first time I heard this song, I was about 16, and I found myself completely overcome with the strangest feeling I’d ever experienced. It was as if joy were something you could see rather than feel, and I was looking at a snapshot of a very specific aspect of joy from a very specific moment that had occurred at a point in my life when I was so young I had no words — only feelings.
Closing my eyes, I felt as if I were standing just outside that long-ago moment, looking in at an emotion I could almost — but not quite — feel. I reached for it, but too many years stood between the memory and me, and ultimately, all I could feel was a kind of frantic longing that bordered on panic as I wished with all my heart for a way to go back in time to that moment and feel that mysterious forgotten emotion again.
For years, I felt the same way when I heard certain Karen Carpenter songs, and I spent many hours in high school listening to Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise album and my mom’s old Carpenters tape over and over, trying to reach the almost-memory that danced around the edges of my thought every time the music played.
A little over a year ago, I found my way back.
I was in the middle of Primary class, and I’d pulled up iTunes to provide some white noise while I did my homework. As I studied the day’s citations, with the Carpenters’ greatest hits playing in the background, the lost memory suddenly flooded my thought.
The details of the human circumstances were as fuzzy as they’d ever been, but it didn’t matter, because I was there, inside that timeworn snapshot, basking in the delirious joy I’d spent years trying to recapture.
Sitting in my office with my books scattered across the desk in front of me and that dazzling memory surrounding me and filling me and pouring into every crevice of my thought, I realized that it wasn’t a physical place and time I was trying to find. It was a point of consciousness that I’d experienced once, as a very little girl, and then forgotten in the hassles of everyday existence.
The intensity of that feeling faded over the next few hours, and as hard as I tried to hang onto it, I couldn’t quite stop it from slipping into the ether a few days later. But it’s still in my thought somewhere, and it surfaces from time to time, just to remind me that it’s still there, waiting quietly for me to understand it well enough to make it a permanent state of consciousness.
May we all find our joy.