by Lillian Csernica on April 10, 2013
Yes, that is indeed French for “joy of living.” The English definition of the phrase is most often rendered as hearty or carefree enjoyment of life. Sounds pretty good, right?
To be a writer is to be driven by some inner compulsion to render one’s thoughts and ideas into words. Most of the writers I’ve known well have been what might be termed “broken people.” Many of us write because we’re trying to make something stop hurting. Or perhaps we’re trying to prevent others from suffering the hurts we’ve endured. This is a noble task. Messy, painful, an uphill struggle at times. After all that effort, we might reach only a handful of people with the message we’re driven to send.
You know what many of us need to do? Lighten up.
That sounds frivolous, doesn’t it? Oh no, we tell ourselves, we have serious work to accomplish. Time lost is never regained. Nose to the grindstone! While there’s something to be said for the Puritan Work Ethic, even the Puritans had some fun every once in a while.
I have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I am low serotonin. Going back on both sides of my family one can read the patterns of depression and alcoholism and divorce. I have bad days when I can’t write. I have, however, learned how to get past that horrible conviction that I will never write another worthwhile word again. The solution is simple.
Go play with your cat. Go blow bubbles. Go sit in the sunshine. Go look at the stars. Be Here Now. Be fully present, fully mindful, in full possession of whatever inspires in you the joie de vivre waiting within every moment. Better yet, when you have happy moments, WRITE THEM DOWN! Write down what gives you a lift, what drives back the shadows, what floods your weary mind and heart with all the wondrous colors of life.
My writing teacher, Andy Couturier, gave me a brilliant piece of advice. One night after class I was all excited over the progress I was making on my current novel. I was happy, really happy! Andy suggested I write down how I got to that place of happiness. Life is full of ups and downs. Some time another bad day would hit, and I’d need to find the longitude and latitude of happiness once again. A few months later one of my best friends died suddenly. I still miss her every day, but now the grief does not cripple me and stop me from writing.
Joie de vivre. The joy of living. Breathe it in. Let it soak into your every cell. Then return to your writing radiant with the pure energy of being alive.