Joy in June

June is arguably the best month of summer for Dallasites: light and cool enough to sit outside, relaxed enough for the kids to stay up a little later, and paced a little less frenzied.

Sure, working parents still have to come up with activities and childcare, but it’s easier to find older kids to help with driving and sitting.

It’s a great time for everyone to have a little fun and bring a little joy in routines. Vacation plans are revving up.

While visiting my 4-year-old grandson, I was reminded of what that looked like. He was rolling sand into balls and using a spatula as a lever to hurl them at his pile of cars while laughing exuberantly.

As I pushed him fast and high on the swings, he screamed out with laughter, “This is the BEST day ever!”

I asked him later where he got the idea to use a spatula as a catapult, and he chuckled, “It just boinked into my brain!”

Wow. Adults see a spatula for flipping pancakes; tots see a world of possibilities. With dead Christmas trees, grownups think “bulk trash,” while children think forts. Oh to recapture the fun, the joy of playing as a child.

Author and commentator, David Brooks, in his new book, The Second Mountain: The Quest For A Moral Life, delineates five levels of joy.

The obvious first is physical. The second he sees as communal such as dancing or a celebration after a project is completed. Emotional is his third level, which may involve tears: a mother gazing at her newborn, the birth of a new puppy.

An even higher level of joy is spiritual. This he calls the enchantment of a mystical force; some call it God, others Nature, whatever connects to the universe.

Finally, he comes to moral as the highest level of joy that not everyone ever experiences.

Perplexed, I delved on to how Brooks describes this joy: the peace and contentment that comes when an examined life discovers his or her true purpose in life. It always involves a deep and loving commitment and permeates daily living. These people shine. They have a moral elevation.

So this summer, turn off social media, look at your life, and seek that shine that involves more than time in the sun. Hopefully, it will start with a “boink” in the brain.

Len Bourland can be reached at [email protected]

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