It can seem that joy is an incidental by-product of life, like the sparkle on the surface of the sea. Not really the stuff of which life is made, but something that happens along, if you are lucky. But suppose that it’s really the other way round, that joy is actually the substance that life is made of; and that life is simply a voyage to discover new ways of expressing joy.

When you row your boat and catch sight of drops of water glinting with light as they fall from your oars, and feel joy, perhaps that joy was the point, the reason you took the boat out. But if so, why does the deliberate quest for joy often seem to bring failure or disappointment – or almost anything but the joy you were looking for!

It is because the joy you seek is never somewhere else, but always here. You tend to set a course and follow it through. This has much to admire. But what would it be like if, three strokes out from the shore, you watched the drops falling from your oars and sparkling in the light, and said, “This is far enough. I have found what I came for. My voyage is complete now.”?


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