“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
On an all-girls trip to an all-girls concert, we randomly picked a local restaurant for dinner before the show. The lack of curb appeal made us question our choice, however the Uber already dropped us off and we were stuck on a curvy road in a strange town so in we went. The coziness of the low ceiling, wood walls and candle-lit tables were inviting until we were informed by the hostess that without reservations we were out of luck. With eye-rolls and grumblings in our stomachs, we headed to an almost full bar. Defeat showing in our faces as we looked to each other for suggestions, a man in a New Orleans Saints hat at the end of the bar waved us over as he asked a couple to move down a stool so the three of us could sit together. We relaxed as the weight was taken off by the open barstools and Mr. Saints sparked up a conversation with us. We ordered drinks just as his wife walked in from the outside deck. Bursting with excitement, she told us along with her husband the restaurant had been voted into Southern Living’s Top Restaurants in the South. With that we learned they were the owners of the 25-year-old restaurant. Mr. Saints was originally from New Orleans and with Mrs. Saints they traveled around the country watching their beloved Saints team every chance they got.
We drank, talked sports, shared family stories and we congratulated them on their success. My friends and I were able to celebrate a crowing moment in the lives of two strangers. We were genuinely excited for them and it felt good to swim in their joy. Once we ordered dinner, we understood the reason for the reward. It was some of the very best food I have ever experienced – and for the record I LOVE food.
While we ate and drank with our new friends The Saints, our bartender, Joanie, who never let an empty glass remain within our reach, laughed along with us and cared for us like a mother at Sunday dinner. Joannie shared pictures of her granddaughter and told us the story of a drunken night in Nashville when she woke-up with $400 boots. Her mission to find her granddaughter pink boots somehow ended with her purchasing a pair for herself. We laughed and nodded along because we all could relate to her tale. She told us after that night she never goes out drinking with a credit card, she only brings cash. The lesson she shared with us from her trip to Nashville was “only pay cash for your boots.” She took our picture, gave us a hug and told us our meal was on The Saints, saying they had just called to insist on covering our tab. She wouldn’t accept no for an answer and sent us on our way telling us to have a great time.
It was the beginning of an amazing night! We then celebrated the careers of five women while they gave their all on stage to entertain an arena full of people. We swam in their joy too and cheered for them as if they were our closest girlfriends.
My friends and I experienced a night full of sharing joy with others. There is magic in that. A true friend will swim in your joy just as much as they will hold you afloat when you are drowning in pain. The measure of love is being someone’s biggest cheerleader, even when you are not in the game.
How often do we push away someone else’s joy and miss opportunities to dive in with them?
Are we too caught up in our own misery to welcome the relief that comes with celebrating someone else? Is our hater-ade so strong that we refuse to acknowledge happiness when it right in front of us? Why?
When you are going through a rough spot, why wouldn’t you want to dive into someone’s joy pit to celebrate with them? Joy is contagious. If misery loves company, so does joy.
If the chicken pox are contagious, why can’t happiness be too? What do you have to lose?
We have so much to learn from each other. What better way to learn than, sharing our experiences and jumping into the joy pit together. Our friends, The Saints, worked long and hard to achieve their dream. However, the lesson they taught was how loving your journey brings continued success. They showed me how to measure success in happiness, not awards defined by others. While at the concert that night, I learned to dance like everyone is watching without the weight of the expectations of others holding me down. I learned that bunch of girls can sell out a concert and I saw what pure joy looks like while each of them were doing what they loved. My friendships have shown me patience and gratitude can get me through bouts of pain and misery. I learned that time with friends can heal my soul and even in the darkest moments wonderful gifts are present. Our sweet bartender, Joanie, gave us life lessons while she shared her joy, her family and her stories with us. We listened and decided to jump in her joy pit with her. A simple choice of where to grab dinner allowed us to connect and learn from people while we shared joy. It was contagious.
My journey brought me through epic failures and impressive successes to find my way to that restaurant with my friends. I love to write. I find contagious joy in putting words on paper. I will continue to write because I have experienced joy through misery and maybe someone else needs to read how that is possible. I have really good friends with really good stories who I continue to laugh with and learn from. So I will keep writing, keep catching contagious joy and I will only pay cash for my boots.