I’ve been looking at old pictures in my adopted family’s photo albums recently. I can’t say I’m familiar with everyone pictured but family resemblance is pretty easy to discern. One thing that strikes me about these photos is the facial expressions in which, invariably, everyone is smiling, and, in most cases seem not to be simply mugging for the camera but, rather, exhibiting a true sense of joy, innocence and well-being.
I must assume that life on the whole was and is just as much of a struggle for these people as for anyone else, so I have to wonder what lies behind these smiles: some sort of assurance of innate goodness in the universe, a confidence that everything is essentially right with the world? I know this family has been deeply religious so perhaps that may explain the conundrum at least in part. But I prefer to think of these people as having realized a true Élan Vital, that they have come face to face with the ineffable essence of life, that they have innate understanding that they are participants in the natural, universal Oneness.
I do have the feeling, though, if I were able to ask these folks about this they would be inclined to offer the religious explanation. Maybe, over all, it doesn’t really matter how the essence of life is framed as long as we all stay focused on the world we know and love.