Joie de Vivre

Posted by jlubans on April 11, 2021

Caption: Photo by John Lubans July 2013, Riga, Latvia.

Our kitchen window overlooks Salem’s downtown, including a large bank building. At quitting time, a parade of office workers streams forth.
Recently, a couple of young women – in their work clothes - were walking toward the parking lot. One began to dance, a graceful move, more waltz than Watusi.
Her friend responded with a similar, but different, step.
Obviously, they were happy to be done for the day or, maybe, they had somewhere fun to go.
That bit of exuberant joy – which continued all the way to their car - took me back to 2013, to an open air sports stadium where hundreds of folk-dance groups were performing.
It was the outdoor dance venue for the quinquennial Song and Dance Festival in Riga, Latvia which celebrates national song, dance, music, theater, art and crafts with approximately 40,000 performers.
The above photo is of two of the thousands of folk dancers. They were taking a victory lap around the track at performance’s end. Who would ever think from this photo of the soaking rainstorm half way through the festival that poured down for a half hour; yet, without hesitation, the performers danced through the rain and the puddles on the turf?
The beatific, beaming expression on their faces, brings to mind the joy we can find in a job well done - of “nailing it” – in solidarity with others in the human community, with people we like, achieving something greater than what we could do alone.
Latvians, as introverted as any of the three Baltic nations, rarely smile in public. The joke that’s told is that their non-stop smiling during the five-day song and dance festival
uses up their smile rations until the next festival!
There’s another, darker interpretation for the grim faces; it’s how you learn to look during 50 years of communist rule.
I think I could make an argument that the photo is an example of “flow”, that state of being when we derive great satisfaction in a doing a good job and doing it masterfully.
Our exuberance overflows.
When I ran long distance – without any aches or pains – I rejoiced in the physicality of my movement, of my gliding effortlessly (so it seemed) over hill and dale, the wind against my face, full out under the open sky.

Caption: Detail, photo by John Lubans, 2013, Riga, Latvia.

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© Copyright all text and photos John Lubans 2021

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