Take us back to a moment this year when you experienced pure, unadulterated joy.
I have a bit of an issue with the "pure, unadulterated" part of this prompt. It makes it sound so earth shattering, heart stopping and life changing. Though I have probably had a few of those moments of joy, I cannot right off recall one from this year.
Yet perhaps the inability to recall such a moment is in and of itself indicative of a few things that are worth exploring. While I promise to answer the prompt, (that is part of the deal, after all), I would like to expound for a moment on why it may be difficult.
To begin with, perhaps I am over thinking it. After all, the prompt doesn't mention "life changing" or "heart stopping". It may be that I am interpreting something simple as something complex. It would not be the first time. In which case the prompt may simply be asking me to recall something that made me happy without guilt this year, and not something that was a peak experience of my entire existence.
The darker possibility as to why I had some difficulty with this prompt would be that I don't recognize or appreciate joy. That something within me is so bitter, so jaded, and so cynical that I either simply don't feel any kind of joy as much as other people, (a possibility I have considered before), or I have a more difficult time recalling it. While I know this less appealing possibility is at least part of the issue, I am not yet willing to determine it is the entirety of the situation. I am a bit deeper and warmer than that, even if I do appear somewhat "Vulcan-ish" at times when it comes to expression. So I will file this possibility under "things to keep an eye on", but not dwell upon it for now.
So I tackle the prompt mostly out of the first assumption I made here; that I am overselling the prompt to myself. I declare therefore that the prompt is not asking me to describe a life affirming miracle, but a far simpler though no less wonderful encounter with joy, untainted. A little more than finding a quarter on the sidewalk, but not so much as the birth of my first born.
Proceeding within these perimeters, various things could apply. I could again mention my niece. The finishing of my novel's first draft. Or for that matter, sitting on my couch and watching the Baltimore Ravens sweep the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular season this year.
Yet I will write about a rather recent event.
I have a friend. A special friend to me that I have known for several years now. They live on the other side of the country, and I have not seen them in person for many years. And the last time I did see them, they occupied a different place in my life than they do now. For a while this shift left a silence and a distance between us. For several years I didn't hear from them, and I got to the point where I assumed that was that, and I would not hear from them again. (It has happened more than once in my life, after all.)
But after a while, I did hear from them again. Slowly, we rebuilt our friendship into something different than it was before, but something I value. I still don't hear from them often, but there are times I hear from them in a concentrated string of messages for a while.
Like last month. I still wish them a Happy Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year each year. This year's Thanksgiving greeting spawned several messages back and forth. One of them mentioning that I had been thought of a lot.
It was one of the things for which I was most thankful this year, even though I didn't get the message until a few days after Thanksgiving itself. It may not seem like much. I know there are those out there who will accuse me of being insecure, paranoid, or just plain weird when is say this, but it meant a lot to me to actually be told they were thinking of me. In my heart of hearts I suppose I knew all was well between us. Yet there are times when distance, time, stress, and other factors can cloud our instincts. Make us ponder if things are okay between us and someone else. Not everybody else perhaps, but certain folks. In this case, the other person holds a unique position in my heart, and to just hear them mention that they had been thinking of me brought me joy. Joy without guilt, and contingent upon nothing else.
Being told directly that you are on the mind of someone that matters a great deal to you, even if somewhere deep inside you already know it. That's a joy that seems quite pure to me.