Peeking Through Joy’s Window

Boy running away

My five year-old son loves to run.  Not just in a playful kind of run that little kids engage in, but in a divinely inspired kind of run that shows that he loves to run. He tires out well conditioned nannies and caregivers (including me), can outrun and outlast kids almost twice his age, and he just never seems to fatigue. He smiles all the while.  He’s half legs, half goofy grin.

The other night, he was running down a hotel hallway towards the elevator.  Me, my wife and our three year-old tried to keep up.  When we did, my wife turned to the now panting eldest and said “Y, I think when you run, you are closest to God,” and gave him a peck on the top of his head.  And while at the time I didn’t think much of that comment, it was only today,  slowly, that it started to seep into my soul – those powerful words  playing in the shadows of my mind.  It has really resounded in me.

When I think of my son running, I feel the true happiness it gives him.  It’s like his spirit does soar, even if for a moment of two.  I see that same soaring of spirit in my youngest when he discovers something again, but reacts as if it’s his first time seeing or experiencing it.  When he wrinkles his nose and bursts out with that  great belly laugh of his, I feel that he is closest to God at that moment.  It’s like there is a brief, undisturbed, uncontrolled, unwavering, profound glimpse into something that we are only privy to in sacred moments.  That something produces a light within us that can only exude out towards others, they catching it like a ripple in a pond, brushing up against us all without us knowing exactly what it is that has touched us.  But we know that we have been touched.  That something is what I call Peeking Through Joy’s Window.

boy window 1

I spent part of the day yesterday looking at others – people at work, on the streets, in cars – and wondering what is it that they do that allows them to Peek into Joy’s Window.  What is it underneath the uniforms, masks and facades of modern living that sends them to furtively glance through The Window.   Do they even know that they are Peeking?  When I spy an old man navigating through a crowd with his walker, I often picture him as a young man, slapping his friends on the back, tugging at his girlfriend’s sleeve, sneaking a kiss, playing at something that brings him close to something he only approaches when his mind and spirit are in alignment with the Creator’s.  What am I seeking when I look at that old man?  Do I seek that very thing in myself?

When I was a young boy, there were things that I think had me Peeking Through Joy’s Window.  I can’t really be sure, it’s been such a long time.  I used to read a lot, used to listen to music, I played games, I was active in sports, did karate like my uncle did.  I loved homework and doing well in school.  I enjoyed hanging out with adults and tried to act grown up and tried to mature faster.  Why I was in a race to leapfrog over my childhood I don’t know.  But there were good times.  I had just blotted them out in my drinking – a natural consequence of trying to forget my past and present and to destroy my future.  Alcohol was like a huge magnet wiping out the remaining fading memories of my younger days.

I don't know how old I was when this was taken, but I know that if I tried this now, all the king's horses and all the king's men...
The author as a burgeoning young Grasshopper

I used to think that alcohol could bring me to a place of contentment, of bliss, of rapture.  I could drink and actually feel what it was like to feel.  I felt what it was like to be happy for once, to pick up the loving vibes from the room, to be lighter and stretched properly into my own skin.  I truly felt that I was Peeking Through Joy’s Window.  But it was a facade.  That Window I thought I was facing was only a picture of a Window – one dimensional and quick to disappoint.  Drinking brought me to the general vicinity of gladness and elation, but like a wisp of smoke, impossible to capture and easy to dissipate in the wind.  Like me.

These days, I am not quite sure what brings me to the Window.  I might be Peeking without even knowing it.  Perhaps it’s just being in recovery that does it for me.  Perhaps it’s in seeing how others do it.  Maybe it’s in working with others and availing myself to other alcoholics. I don’t have hobbies per se, I don’t have many interests…what you see is what you get.  I couldn’t say that about myself in the drinking days.  My duplicity ran deep, as did my resentments.  What brings me utter joy is something that I am still discovering.  Perhaps it isn’t a thing I do, like gardening or hula hooping or skydiving, but a state.  I don’t live in joy every moment of my life, but I live in gratitude for most of it.  Perhaps that is my Peeking.  Perhaps there is something I have still yet to be given guidance to come upon.  I don’t know.  And I am OK in that not knowing right now.  I am content to continue watching others Peek Through Joy’s Window and see their total abandonment of self to pure joy and utter completion for that briefest of  moments.  I am content to watch my sons run and chance upon life and laugh and watch my wife coddle them and fuss over the dog…her joy.

More will be revealed.

17 Comments Add yours

  1. fern says:

    I’m glad you get so much pleasure from your children and your wife. I’m certain it makes them happy too!

    I recall pure joy in my childhood during family vacations and holidays with my 3 siblings when my dad and mom were still married. The combination of all of our positive energy seeped into every pore in my body and I was truly happy.

    Somewhere along the way I was hurt and betrayed in my home and I had to build self protective walls in order to survive childhood. The walls kept everyone out even those that loved me. Sadly, this strategy left a void in my adult life that I filled with alcohol. I’m working on breaking down those walls and learning to accept love and give it more freely.

    Moral of my story: There is joy in loving others in the present moment and I have to be sober to fully experience it.

    Thanks for your post you got me thinking. 🙂

    1. Hi Fern – thank you for sharing about what it was like growing up like that, building those self-protective walls – I know I did that too. And I too had to learn to give and take love – hard to do when you think people want something from you and you’re trying to protect yourself. I love your comments here…thank you so much for being here.


  2. Al K Hall says:

    “When you ___________, you are closest to God.”

    My new favorite sentence. What a great way to evaluate if an activity is uplifting *and* enjoyable. For me, i think i’d fill in the blank with “writing”. Thanks, Paul, for giving me something to think about today.

    1. Hi Al – thank you for mentioning what you did. That made my day.

      And as for the “writing” and “music”, I am there with you!

      Have a wonderful day,

  3. Al K Hall says:

    Oooh. And listening to music. i could fill in the blank with “listening to music”, too.

  4. Beautiful. Scoop up that kid of yours and give him a big squish from me. He’s lucky to have a dad that will keep encouraging him to peek. And Dad is lucky to have a boy who’ll keep reminding him to do the same.
    And you two knuckleheads are reminding me.
    Cool how that works. The far-reaching ripple effects of joy.
    Many thanks for splashing around.
    I’m going to judo chop my bathwater right now, and hope the love reaches you guys.

    1. Hey Marius – sure did squish both of them for you. They said your beard’s too rough.
      Thank your for the lovely comments – you’re becoming a true friend to me.


  5. Number 9 says:

    love the karate picture! great form! lol. at our womens meeting yesterday we talked about this exact thing. joy. how when we were young we remember experiencing it but then alcohol replaced it with something much less valuable but a lot shinier on the outside. Joy is soooooooo worth being sober for. i describe it as that peace they talk about in the Bible that “surpasses all understanding.” joy. your wife and children sound wonderful. so happy you are sober to enjoy your family! and me too.

    1. Thanks Regina…yeah, the old days when I could actually stretch like that. If I did that pose now it would require surgery and splints of some kind. I loved that line you put in there, the “surpassing all understanding”. I guess I am at the point of trying to understand it all, and maybe I am not meant to. Another Great Mystery.

      I know that your family has a wonderful, present mother with them. Yay for all of us 🙂


  6. runningonsober says:

    I think when we find joy in simply “being”, we have found TRUE joy. Joy’s essence, the state of joy, so to say. It’s an acceptance of way things are, and being open to what is presented next before us. I’m not sure how to describe it either, Paul, but I think I understand because I too feel that way.

    A lovely post, thank you!

    1. Hi Christy – thank you so much for the wise words. You describe it much better than I did, this thing that is moving through our lives. Thank you for adding to this…made it all the better 🙂


  7. Amy says:

    Little happiness-es. Like last night, when we told our 4 year old we were eating dinner outside, and he yelled, “woo hoo!” and ran around in circles in the yard. That’s the kind of joy being sober makes me remember. That part of being a little kid when you didn’t know you were supposed to care how you looked or what people thought. You just…were. How you stop worrying what’s coming next because look. That carrot you’re peeling is so pretty. 🙂

    1. I can picture your little one running around like a madman and bringing a smile to your face! You mention what someone once said to me – “the children remind us how to live” or something along those lines. You are right in that regard – we didn’t really know or care what people thought of us…we were just…us. Thank you for bringing your joy here – loved your comments!



  8. furtheron says:

    The conditioning that growing up surrounded by “adults” I think drives a lot of the beauty in life out of us. Then we realise that but it is a darn site harder to get it back once lost sadly.

    1. You are bang on, Graham. There seems to be a newness of joy that resonates in the wee ones and it slowly gets sapped out of us slowly by little, as they say. And you’re also right in that it takes time to get back to that source, but I am getting there…a little bit at a time. Thanks for being here…keep strumming away, bringing joy to others, kind sir 🙂


  9. good2begone says:

    I bet your wife and sons peek through joys window and are happy with the husband and father that sobriety has given them. More is always revealed my friend……on all sides of the family dynamic.

    1. Wise words…more to be revealed indeed. Thanks for the kind and touching words…means a lot to me. Always means a lot when you visit this little corner of the world 🙂


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