52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. WORLD ALPHABET

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BendigoArt.com/CullmanTribune.com (Photo: littlespicejar.com)

JOY TO THE WORLD 

Joy to the world, 

All the boys and girls. 

Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, 

Joy to you and me. 

– written by Hoyt Axton and sung by Three Dog Night and every joyful soul in the world 

A world of joy is waiting out there for you to savor and share. There’s a kind of hushed anticipation all over the world as it is reopening following the global pandemic. Let’s all be open to new joys to discover around our beautiful globe. 

“HAPPINESS: Found in Translation” provides a glossary of joy from around the world. The 2019 book is written by Dr. Tim Lomas, a positive psychology lecturer at the University of East London and would make a delightful gift this or any holiday. 

With sunny illustrations by Annika Hunt, this charming compilation launched me into a nuanced world filled with all kinds of exotic descriptions for happiness and contentment in a world of word joy. Here, I’m adding my own words of joy and hope to add more to yours. 

S.U.N.S. WORLD ALPHABET expands our understanding of the four, simple elements for “joyous aging”: S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding).  

Let’s get started on our fun world of joy adventure. 

A is for ATARAXIA It’s Greek to me. I think of it as “A-OK.” In Ancient Greece it described a “lack of disturbance or trouble” and is associated with the philosopher, Epicurus, who dedicated his studies to finding joy via reason. Here’s an Epicurean recipe for joy: “If thou wilt make a man happy, add not to his riches but take away from his desires.” 

B is for BEATITUDES and BLESSINGS I’m Episcopalian which is basically a Church of England pie reheated in America. We share the “Book of Common Prayer (circa 1549)” which includes “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and admonishes us to “shield the joyous” because mirth is good medicine. 

C is for CONTENTMENT, a general state of satisfaction which transcends the allure of basic needs and desires. It is possible to be content without being very happy. Happiness is more circumstantial and about moments of pleasure. Of course, for most of us the joys of happiness and of contentment are desirable goals. 

D is for DHARMA, which I thought of this weekend as I “checked off” attending “The Nutcracker Ballet” for this holiday season. During “Clara’s Dream,” when the troupes do the stereotypical dances of joy from around the world—the leaping Russian soldier, the frisky French ballerinas, the clowning whatever—there is the undulating joy with Hindu-inflected music and movements that are foreign to our senses; however, the message of joy is the same. Dharma is “moving on the right path,” similar to what Christians in the Western culture call “being on the path of righteousness.” He’s got the whole world in His hands, right? 

E is for EUPHORIC, a feeling of intense happiness which urges one to follow one’s dreams. British songwriter and lead guitarist for the rock band, Oasis, Noel Gallagher, has said, “There was a euphoria in the music and the way it was delivered, and as the crowds started to get bigger, it fed off itself until it became less about the band and more about being with all those people jumping up and down, drunk to the music.” 

F is for FRIENDSGIVING, which I dedicated a page and a half of newspaper copy to in last week’s “52 Odes to Joy” chapter. Friendsgiving is a relatively new word. According to Merriam-Webster online, the first recorded usage of “Friendsgiving” was in 2007. Friendsgiving is the coupling of “friends” plus “giving” and gathers people in your tribe together for laughter, goodwill and good food. 

G is for GROUNDING, that conscious choice of retracting yourself from the distractions of our oft overly busy world and thinking through what authentically, personally matters to you. “The S.U.N.S. Joyous Aging System” is an easy, useful guide. Think through: What do you find Smile-Making and Smile-Doing? Who among your friends and family do you choose to connect more deeply with through Uniting? Knowing that giving others joy adds joy to the giver, how can you radiate more NEIGHBORING now and as you plan for a joy-filled, new year? What are you so passionate about that you find it takes you out of your own thoughts and has you mesmerized in the zone, enjoying the SPELLBINDING? 

H is for HYGGE, which I read about repeatedly in design magazines and blogs throughout the pandemic. It’s a tad trendy to toss it out in coffee shop conversation but “hygge,” a term the Scandinavians have used even before Leif “The Lucky” Erikkson brought it to American shores, translates to “comfortable conviviality,” coziness and wellness. The word origins of “hygge” are both Danish and Norwegian, so YouTube some snowbound influencer for the brisk pronunciation which is something like “hhoo-guh.” 

I is for INUUQATIGIITTIARNIQ I swear this is a real word, and Lordy Mercy, I am THANKFUL to not be bowlderizing through it in my daily vocabulary. However, my Eskimo friends use this Inuit word to mean “being respectful of all people” also “healthy, neighborly communities” and furthermore, “living in peace and harmony with others.” Remember, their native language is quite foreign to our non-native American ears. These are people who have forty-leven words to describe “snow.” The pronunciation of this “world joy” word which will WOW your tribe at holiday parties is: “ih-noo-kat-ig-eet-ee-ah-ah-nik.” (Need I mention this word is not original to me but from Dr. Lomas in “HAPPINESS: Found in Translation.”) 

J is for JOIE DU JOUR which translates from the French as “joy of the day.” The French are “très bien” at adding a dollop of joy to daily life. There are literally hundreds of pastry shops in Paris each with its own “secret recipe” for joy. Then, to walk off the indulgent calories there are alluring visual treats like flower boxes everywhere and “très chic” window-shopping. Wherever you are, there is joy to add to your day. 

K is for KINTSUGI with its Japanese origin coming from the art of repairing broken pottery with brilliant gold lacquer. This highlights flaws in the beauty of a vase or teacup and reminds us to celebrate every experience in our life, especially those things which we once thought may permanently leave us shattered but didn’t. 

L is for LOVE which makes our joy-filled world go round. “Where there is love, there is joy.”—Mother Teresa of Romania and India 

M is for MBUKI-MVUKI which in Swahili is pronounced as “mm-boo-kee  mm-voo-kee” and is the exhilarating feeling of stripping ones clothes off to move freely and dance wildly. This African expression of joy takes the restrained invitation of “Shall we dance?” to an uninhibited expression of full-out fun. 

N is for NEIGHBORING, being “others-centered.” While we are thinking of others throughout the world this is good time to pause and be THANKFUL for the compassionate work done by international organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Red Cross. How might you find joy in supporting good works done around the world? 

O is for ORKA which is Swedish for being spirited, energetic and resilient. It’s a compliment to give task-oriented do-gooders and joy-givers, however you may want to make certain someone understands the meaning before you praise them with, “WOW! You did great cleaning up the kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner. You, my dear, are sooo ORKA!” 

P is for PRETOOGJES, which the Dutch pronounce as “pret-oh-yeess” and comes from “fun eyes.” This is the pleasant countenance of those with a bit of a twinkle and a smile, enjoying laughter and perhaps a wee bit of mischief. 

Q is for QI, the spirit that connects all of us which in Chinese is pronounced “chee.” This “breath of life” divinely flows in and around all the people of the world—red and yellow, black and white–all precious. 

R is for REUNITING with loved ones. This REDISCOVERY and REFINDING is what the French call “RETROUVAILLES” (ruh-trroo-vy). 

S is for SMILE-MAKING, and also for SPELLBINDING. Peace, SHALOM our SOULS are SIMPATICO. 

T is for TEMPUS FUGIT, Latin for “time flies.” The Ancient Romans and those of today, remind us that life is fleeting, and we should seize each moment of joy. 

U is for UNITING, deeply connecting with someone or some ones. “From a distance, there is harmony, and it echoes through the land. And it’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves, it’s the heart of every man.” 

V is for VORFREUDE, which is German for the pre-pleasure of anticipation. Pronounced “for-fhroy-duh,” this is a new word I’m eagerly anticipating tossing about at holiday gatherings. Yes, I’m—THAT, pretentious, Christmas ass in the stable! 

W is for WU WEI, pronounced “woo way,” and seems like it should come with egg rolls under the “yum yum” tree. It’s Chinese for “going with the flow,” being natural, effortless and spontaneous. We can do things the hard way or we can do it WU WEI. 

X is for XIBIPIINO If you guessed this word came from Dr. Lomas’ “HAPPINESS: Found in Translation” book and not from my skull, you’re right. Hey, “X Men” and “X Women” and “X words” are all hard. According to the good doctor, XIIPIINO, pronounced by natives in the Amazon Forest of Brazil as “ih-bih-pee-oh” is that trippy feeling one has going in and out of reality and perception. “Bartender, please don’t pour me any more eggnog, I think I’m going in and out of XIBIPIINO.” 

Y is for YOUTHFULNESS, which 94-year-old, Japanese Buddhist sage, Daisaku Ikeda, reminds us “is not determined by age. It is determined by one’s life force. One who possesses hope is forever young. One who continually advances is forever beautiful.” 

Z is for ZEST That Frenchman extraordinaire, Christian Dior, said “ZEST is the secret of all beauty. There is no beauty that is attractive without ZEST!” OOH-LA-LA, Y’ALL! JOIE TO THE WORLD!! 

S.U.N.S. WORLD ALPHABET gives you at least 26 windows into a world of joy. Now is a great time to let your joy take you places. If you are not finding enough joy where you are, as Shakespeare wrote 400 years ago in “Coriolanus”: “There is a world elsewhere.” 

WUNDERGARTEN: The Miracle Garden,” is a new, children’s entertainment I am premiering in the new year and currently I’m feeling the joy of all things German and Austrian. Earlier this year, I wrote a more grown-up interlude based on the real letters between Wolfgang “Wolfie” Amadeus Mozart and his adoring, also accomplished musician-composer sister, Nannerl. I am feeling lots of VORFREUDE joy anticipating a voyage on the Rhine and on the Danube, but you may be exploring “JOY JAUNTS” for WU WEI in China, MBUKI-MVUKI in Africa or as an armchair traveler, listening to EUPHORIA with a British rock band.  

Let’s add our JOYFUL, worldly noise to Louis Armstrong: 

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD! 

I see trees of green, 

Red roses, too. 

I see them bloom 

For me and for you. 

And, I say to myself, 

What a wonderful world. 

The colors of the rainbow, 

So pretty in the sky. 

Are also on the faces 

Of people going by. 

I see friends shaking hands, 

Saying “How do you do?” 

They’re really saying, 

“I love you.” 

Yes, I say to myself, 

What a wonderful world. 

Oh yeahhhh….” 

– writer(s): George David Weiss and George Douglas 

JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK 

Nov. 26—Charles Schultz 

Nov. 27—Bruce Lee 

Nov. 28—Summer Rae (wrestler) 

Nov. 29—Chadwick Boseman 

Nov. 30—Mark Twain 

Dec. 1—Richard Pryor 

Dec. 2—Nelly Furtado 

BUBBLING BLUEBERRY HOLIDAY CRISP with OATS and PECANS 

(Source: littlespicejar.com) 

Each week, “The JOYrontologist” shares a recipe which salutes a recipe which salutes a healthy food produced in America. This week we have a delicious trinity of flavors: Tennessee blueberries, Texas pecans and Vermont oats. The tasty and nutritious collection of the recipes is called “The S.U.N.S. Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin) which many gerontologists believe holds the promise of a long, healthy, joyful life. 

INGREDIENTS 

For the blueberry mixture: 

  • 5 cups blueberries 
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice 
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 

For the oats-pecan crumble: 

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans 
  • 5 tbsp. cold butter, cubed 
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats 

DIRECTIONS 

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375F. 
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the blueberries. Spread the blueberry mixture evenly in a square baking dish (8” x 8” works great). 
  1. Add the pecans, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, flour and salt into a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times, stop the mixer, add in the rolled oats and pulse an additional 2-3 times. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the blueberries. 
  1. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the oats and pecan crumble turns golden and the blueberries are bubbling. If your crumble starts to brown too much, tent loosely with a piece of foil (perhaps cover at 25 minutes and cook a total of 35 minutes.)  
  1. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream. 

1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS FROM MY FIRST 70 YEARS (continued) 

971. The joy of Puerto Ricans in a Sunday, street parade 

972. The joy of a serene, Japanese tea ceremony 

973. The joy of going toward heaven up NYC’s tallest subway escalator 

974. The joy on the faces of pilgrims who are prayer-walking up Rome’s Spanish steps 

975. The joy of Will Drake’s grandson-of-the-soil American poetry 

976. The joy of Neighboring neighbors in English country villages 

977. The joy of a Parisian Ferris wheel ride with my niece and our good friend 

978. The joy of grilling Middle Eastern kebabs on a beach 

979. The joy of rowdy Germans in a biergarten 

980. The joy of rowdy Irish folk in a pub 

981. The joy of rowdy, old Italians playing bocce 

982. The joy of irises budding in Monet’s garden at Giverny 

983. The joy of being young and in love in London 

984. The joy of not cooking for three years in Birmingham’s “Café District” 

985. The joy of cruising the Bahamas 

986. The joy of giant topiaries in Mexican gardens 

987. The joy of French-Vietnamese food fusion 

988. The joy of cinema magic at the Montreal International Film Festival 

989. The joy of Margaret Thatcher’s first election win celebration in Piccadilly Square 

990. The joy of being home, wherever home is 

HAPPY NEW MONTH CELEBRATING JOY TO THE WORLD! 

Read all the installments in this series at www.cullmantribune.com/tag/odes-to-joy-2022.