I was driving through the Sonoma hills toward the coast with a old, old woman in the passenger seat. We were driving around the edge of the ranch she settled on when she came to this country as a bride from Italy. The car crested a hill and the Pacific Ocean spilled into view. She sighed deeply and said, "every time I see this, I'm happy I'm alive."
I was riding through the Ngong hills in Kenya with a middle-aged white man at the wheel. When we crested a hill, passing his home, the grand vista of the Rift Valley unfolded. He said, "every time I see this, I get so happy it hurts."
When I head home along the road that leads to my house and crest the last hill, I see the pasture and barn on my right bordered by a row of black walnut trees. I want to sing, to yodel, to shout. I am so happy I came to live in this part of the country.
I love watching the walnut trees standing sentinel to the changing seasons. I always check to see whether there are cows in the pasture and wonder where they go when they are absent. I thought I would hate being landlocked and mourn proximity to the ocean. I don't; although I must admit it pleases me to visit occasionally so I can check to see if it is still there, that the tides are still at work.
These sensations I choose to call "capacity for joy" and I am so grateful they exist in me. It is a gift, nothing I sought or deserve. If you know what I mean, then you also have it.