I came home from work this afternoon to my nephews. The older one, 11, spiteful and ornery, already bearing a complete knowledge of the universe, was unshaken by his uncle’s entrance. The younger one, 5, soon to be 6 in a couple of weeks, screamed my name as he came out of the bathroom with his pants still down to his ankles, screaming for me to look at his fresh scar, a giant burn that ran from one side of his left leg to the other side the width of an adult palm. I helped him pull his pants back up carefully avoiding the scar and picked him up in my arms and tossed him up in the air. He laughed and laughed, poking me where he could with his tiny index finger, and then immediately shifting in tone, more serious now¬†like an old friend over a coffee date, but laden with his enthusiastic¬†preschool lisp, still in my arms, he told me his story. He was so excited about his burn. It didn’t hurt anymore he said. Daddy took him to the doctor and then to a man with needles and he was scared and he cried a lot but now it didn’t hurt anymore.

Such strength. Such resilience. Such joy. He ran around me as I sat down to check emails pelting me with gentle fists and a pillow, yielding his full force, trying to coerce me into chasing him. Pelting me with his love.

The joys of life are simple. Love is simple. I believe what may complicate love is expectation. We hear so many stories and I think we try too hard to insert ourselves into these fairy tales. But this is our story to write, to retrospectively narrate. Our very own story to explore. Our very own story.

Joy, I think, is a boon because it is unexpected. Not predestined. Not predetermined. Not devised by the laws of matrimony or a fat bank account or flowers on the first date. Joy is defined in the moment we become aware of what we have in that moment or what we already have and how much it means in separation from the moments we have sought so much distance from. And darkness, darkness is as natural as happiness. You have to know this and you have to continue to defy this. Because. Because you deserve better. Because you deserve joy.

I am not a fortunate fellow. Ask my friends. Ask my family. I am a clumsy guy. But fortune is bullshit. Don’t wait for it. The world is not your oyster it is your blank page. It is your story. Entertain yourself. Keep writing your story. There are no promises. Some accessory characters will get written out because they were divas and just didn’t fit the story well. Some will linger around briefly and then make unexpected, influential cameos. And some will stick around forever. There are no promises but perhaps there will be an education.

Keep writing your story and joy will find you. And then please, share that with me.