As some of you know, we had a miracle happen here two weeks ago. Two miracles actually, and their names are Gemma and Gioia.
Our goat Pasqualina gave birth to these two lovelies, which you can read more about at Goat Berries; containing my excitement, happiness, and joy has been impossible — as evidenced by my plethora of postings of photos and videos. I even gave the goaties names that showed just how wonderful I found their arrivals to be:
Gemma (JEM-mah) means jewel, and Gioia (JOY-ah) means joy.
Did you know that outwardly expressing so much happiness is actually a huge faux pas in Calabria?
Yup, it is, because when you show too much happiness, you invite feelings of invidia or envy . . . and that means malocchio can’t be too far behind. The Evil Eye, as legend goes, can bring about not only physical symptoms including headache and malaise but also good old-fashioned bad luck — especially jinxing whatever it is you’re so happy about.
So around here, many native Calabrians will play down anything good in their lives, avoiding what I suppose could be seen in the worst light as bragging but what many of us would just consider, you know, being happy, knowing it, and showing it.
[Why do I feel the sudden urge to clap my hands?!]
As faithful readers know, I love so many parts of this southern Italian culture, but this is one I just can’t get with. In fact, I actively refuse to.
Look at these baby goats for goodness’ sake! How could I possibly pretend that I don’t smile from ear to ear every single time I even think of them let alone watch them bouncing around, off walls, off their mother, and off whatever else gets in their way.
Life is good, folks, and when life is particularly good, I, for one, am not going to live in fear that others may have some kind of special control over what happens if I open the door to their envy just by showing some happiness.
Beyond that, I also refuse to hold back my joy in anticipation of the other shoe dropping or live under the belief that something must inevitably go wrong if something has gone right.
I choose to revel in any and all joy that comes my way, in that moment, unapologetically and without fear.
Has anyone ever told you not get your hopes up about something? Right up there with the worst advice ever IMHO. The idea is that if you refrain from feeling “too” happy or excited or hopeful, your eventual disappointment (and believe you them, it’s coming!) will be somehow lessened because you refrained from being “overly” happy in the first place.
Yes, you’re going to be disappointed if something goes wrong or doesn’t come through the way you expected or hoped it would — and that’s always a possibility since nothing is guaranteed in life. It may even hurt like hell if you wanted it enough.
Questa è la vita.
But is your disappointment really lessened if you held back your happiness? I don’t think so.
The only thing you’ve done is robbed yourself of experiencing that glorious high, that wonderful feeling of *JOY* you were too afraid to simply drink in, feel, appreciate, and honor in the moment, mindful of the opportunity you have been gifted.
Allowing yourself to feel joy in the moment is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
I don’t know about you, but I will not deprive myself of deep, mood-lifting, soul-enriching joy in the quest of fooling myself into thinking that by doing so I’m somehow protecting myself from the bad things in the world (which, we all know you can’t do no matter how hard you try) or sparing myself the hurt I’ll feel if/when they happen.
Instead, I will continue to allow myself to feel the height of happiness and joy in each and every moment it’s offered to me — and, apparently, keep inviting malocchio till the goats come home.
Speaking of which, I have some kids to check on.
Do you allow yourself to experience joy in the moment?