Ecstatic Joy and Bruce the Blue Gorilla

Warning: do not try this at home without proper supervision.

In my meditation class with Scott McBride we have been studying the Four Limitless Qualities of the bodhichitta (the awakened heart) which includes cultivating joy in one’s life. Unlimited joy is a happiness that is completely devoid of clinging and craving. This is the joy of “happiness without the hangover” explains teacher Pema Chodron.

I would like to share how I experienced a moment of what I am calling Ecstatic Joy on Saturday evening at my home. Please bear with me as I set up the story.

A few weeks ago my junior in high school attended a post prom party at Dave & Busters with most of her junior class. After spending a few hours playing games at the arcade she and a big group of kids decided to pool their tickets in order to get a “really big prize”. And in the moment they exchanged their total of 9,000 tickets, Bruce the Blue Gorilla was born.

Bruce is (was) a giant stuffed gorilla. Yes, he is also blue. My daughter was so taken by Bruce that she offered to house him on behalf of the junior class. That night (morning) I met my daughter, five of her best friends and Bruce in my kitchen as they returned to my house at 4:45 am (hem, hem). The six of them (plus Bruce) were giddy with prom stories and Bruce stories. They quickly changed and went to the basement where they sat Bruce in the middle of their circle and engaged in “Prama” (Prom + Drama) discussions.

Let’s speed up to this past Saturday evening and a last minute bon fire gathering at my home with 25 plus juniors. There was joy in the air. It was a beautiful night and the pizza and soda were abundant. “Life is good” fairies were heard singing in the air as these young adults flitted about enjoying life.

As my husband Brian and I sat watching TV, one of my daughter’s friends, wearing a mischievous grin, asked us if it was okay for her to go to the basement to get Bruce. I should have known at that moment that something momentous was about to take place …

About 20 minutes later Brian and I heard an ecstatic eruption of joy and laughter. Screams and clapping filled the air. I felt elated, excited (and kind of nervous) to find out the cause of this incredible joyful celebration.

We couldn’t believe what we saw. The juniors had sacrificed Bruce the Blue Gorilla in the bonfire. They sacrificed him as a right of passage into their senior year of high school. His soft blue body had exploded open from the heat. His innards were strewn about my backyard.

I burst out laughing. I celebrated with them. It was pure delight from this unexpected spontaneous combustion. It was a moment of Ecstatic Joy and I thank Bruce the Blue Gorilla for making it happen.

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