Life is a connection of moments. These little moments stacked together make stories and those stories are where you lie. Each little pocket of memory defines your existence and who you are as a person. As with a menu, it’s easy to focus on a particular category as I have done with this blog- trauma as breakfast, growth for lunch, hope & writing for dinner. But who says you can’t mix it all up and have breakfast for lunch or ice cream for breakfast? Isn’t the joy of adulting being in control and doing what you want? This brings me to this post – moments of joy!
Before I continue, I would be honoured if you took a minute just to think of your own moments of happiness. If you think of one, perhaps you can think of five of them or many more.
I was reminded earlier of being a child in Brighton. I had a curfew which was to be home before dark and thus I blame my parents for my hatred of winter. This was the time before mobile phones and the internet, the analogue world if you will. The weekend would come, and I’d grab my bike and cycle to friends’ houses, unannounced asking their parents if they could come and play. Our little gang would then cycle about town, exploring our world and making the most of our free time. Most days were an adventure as we found different routes, new places to build dens, imagined our futures or if we were feeling lucky- spend our pocket money at the pier on penny slot machines and fairground rides. Along the coast, we could cycle to all the near towns, which we did often.
One day my BFF and I decided we could get to Rottingdean much quicker if we took the route our parents drove- this was a terrible idea because it involved going on an A-road. These are not pedestrian-friendly, let alone for two 10year olds. A car stopped, told us off and made us pile our bikes into their vehicle so they could take us a few miles to safety. We didn’t think of the dangers of getting into a strange person’s car because by the time we realised why cars were beeping at us, we were too scared to know how to turn back. That car saved us that day, especially as we were also cycling the wrong way in traffic. It was scary but we learnt not to cycle on motorways that day. That day we decided to stay in our town and reward ourselves with a midnight feast.
I don’t know why or how midnight feasts became a thing, but they were for us growing up. Perhaps it was the challenge of staying up until midnight, a near-impossible feat for us children. Perhaps it was that we saved up the sweats all so we could consume them during the witching hour and the joy of breaking supposed rules! Unlike bungee jumping, climbing a mountain or writing a book, this was something I failed to achieve; or achieve when it was important! Now, like many things, time passes and what seemed impossible becomes less so. It’s because as an adult I can eat what I want when I want. As a child, staying up until midnight to feast seemed akin to climbing Mount Everest!
Whilst on the topic of food, I used to enjoy experimenting with food and cooking. I only realised the other day that I am a product of my generation. We all are. My little friends and I used to attempt to recreate food that we liked and to be honest it was a 50/50 chance of it being edible. Since this post is about joy, I was so pleased that I followed the soup recipe from the book- stone soup. I spent ages going through the garden to find the perfect stone, and then fed the soup to my brothers- I’m sure the mud and dirt added to the flavour.
This leads me to siblings. Despite being adopted, I tried to convince my parents to get rid of the others. Obviously, it didn’t work, but everyone who has brothers and/or sisters will know how annoying they are! If I’d had the capacity I’m sure I’d have made a PowerPoint presentation and business plan as to why my parents should have gotten rid of the others! I bet my older brothers would have had better reasons compared to me who, at the time, was the youngest. I believe my main point was that boys smelled bad and insisted on playing instruments when I wanted to watch TV. The other main point was that they wouldn’t let me play D&D or if they were forced to, they would kill me off!
My siblings sucked, but all of the annoyance of them now, as an adult, is a sauce of joy. The most serious issue was when my eldest brother was in charge, we ended up playing with knives, I accidentally stabbed him and was so scared that I locked myself in the bathroom. When my parents returned home, their kids had passed out outside and inside the bathroom in a standoff….did I mention that we were unable to stay awake too late? Midnight feasts were an aspiration.
As far as aspirations go, we need to keep them. We also need to keep our relationships as they are because they are precious. I only say this because on the tube (London underground for those not familiar) I was reminded of the joy of siblings. It was on the track opposite me. I was waiting for the tube and happened to watch across the tracks. Two seemingly unconnected people stood side by side. Out of nowhere, one of them softly punched the other laughed and ran away. When the hitter was a safe enough distance, they pointed to their abandoned luggage smugly. They were siblings. The complete lack of decorum showed this. What brought me joy in that moment was the silliness of it, and as annoying and inappropriate as their behaviour was, you don’t get to be like that with anyone you’re not close with.
What’s appropriate to those close to you rarely work to those who don’t know you! It’s the connections we should treasure. It’s the people who can appreciate you in your most silly state and still love you that make our connections to each other important.
It’s the moments of joy that make life!