07/31/2014 11:25 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

How Do You Find Joy After a Positive HIV Diagnosis? This Poet Has an Answer! (VIDEO)

What messages do we send people about being HIV-positive? One of my favorite poets, Timothy DuWhite, explores the concept of finding joy while dealing with reactions from others as he grappled with his own positive HIV diagnosis. Does it challenge your own thoughts about finding joy?


"Joy Revisited"

During a discussion about existentialism

our professor explains to us that all true intellectuals

must understand that meaning will always be subjective.

It is simply a matter of who wins the majority vote.

For example, this is only a hand

because enough mouths have spoke it into existence.

So, a while back I decided

I'll try to be my own self-determining agent of authenticity.

So this is not a hand.

No, this is a hubalu.

I occasionally pick shit up with it.

Here, pass me the ball

Watch me catch it with my hubalus.


is meaning,

for me.

It is mine.

I made it.

I am not asking you for yours.

Yet, what does it matter without a majorities approval?

For the last few years I've been trying to define my own meaning for Joy.

The dictionary says that Joy is a state of happiness or felicity.

Yet, that always felt so limiting.

If Joy truly only shows up when I am happy;

Then it does not deserve me


I want my meaning for Joy to be bigger than that.

The day I was diagnosed H.I.V positive

I showered my body in this worlds definition of sorrow.

I didn't speak of joy for months

My family and friends would not allow it.

I was supposed to be sad.

Every mouth around me spoke it into existence.

"Tim you are only 21.

Tim you have only loved once.

Tim you must truly hate him."

But see today I am 23.

Just as alive as before only difference is now a college graduate

with enough intellect to understand

that meaning

is always subjective.

So I'll tell you what Joy is.

It is a year and a half later after my diagnosis.

It is me calling my ex,

calling my first love,

and telling him,

that I forgive him

for everything.

Joy is me unblocking his phone number.

Me listening to how his year has been;

The struggles he has been forced to go through.

Joy is me no longer being afraid to admit

that I still love the man that gave me a terminal illness.

And though the majority of you may not approve of this,

that is okay,

because this is Joy for me.

It is mine.

I made it.

I made it.

I made it.

I am not asking you for yours.

Find Timothy on Facebook and his personal website.