" Nothing in the world is permanent,
and we're foolish when we ask anything to last,
but surely we're still more foolish not to take
delight in it while we have it. "
W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM
Life really is that paradox of light and dark, good and evil, joy and sorrow, bitter and sweet. In our upside down world, it's how life often comes to us, a mix of beautiful good and ugly bad. I found it interesting to read how Susan Branch lives with these opposites by creating 'compartments' in her mind—having spaces for the joys of life and other spaces where the sad things dwell. And if I remember aright, what she's found helpful is learning to keep each in its own compartment. So when she's in her happy place, that's what she focuses on. I don't think of it as compartments per se, but in my almost 65 years, I've come to the place where I can live and be okay with having both bad and good, hard and easy, pain and sorrow all living in my heart and mind at the same time. No, it's not perfect, but it's okay on those days when it's a muddle. Often I remind myself of that wonderful line from the Old Testament: "The joy of the Lord is my strength". I've learned that carrying joy in my heart really does help me get through the rough or terrible spots. While feeling dreadfully sad about the woes in the world—mine or someone else's—I have taught myself not to forget to delight in, say, the smell of freshly brewed coffee on a chilly morning, the full moon sailing across the sky on a clear night, or giggling over a silly dog's playful antics. For these are what keeps life worth it.
So...on such a gorgeous Friday morning coming to the end of March (if you can believe that already), I'm sharing my simple list of delights that, in spite of sad things going on, gave my spirits a boost and tickled my fancy this past week. First, a quick nod of thanks to Ross Gay's The Book of Delights, a great little volume of essays in which he reminds me to pay attention to what my soul delights in.
☙ First of all, that gorgeous bouquet of white tulips from Pixabay at the top of this post. There's something innocent, so delicate in those white petals.
☙ For the bright bunch of tulips sitting on my desk in the study (no photo today). I left all the leaves on when I trimmed the stems, so it's a torrent of red blooms in a tumult of wild, bushy green.
☙ The merry bands of Canada geese slowly arriving, honking at they fly overhead towards the pond a street over from us. Oh, the joy as we watch their return.
☙ Sitting down to lunch in the dining room where sunshine fills the corners with light and warmth. It almost feels like being on holidays when we sit there on a weekday.
☙ Waiting in our vehicle in a very long lineup that didn't move an inch for ages... all because people across our community were moved, as we were, to come and drop off items to fill a plane heading to Poland for the relief of Ukrainians on the run. What a delight, and an honour, to wait in this moment with people of like mind for such a cause. As I finish writing this morning, we have now heard not only has the cargo plane been filled to the brim with donations, there is an excess. What a good problem to find solutions for.
☙ Feeling the delight of my muscles stretching as I exercise with the lovely online daughter-senior mom team, April and Aiko, who work out from home and share their videos at yes2next. I believe they started doing this through the pandemic. I love their gentle instruction as well as the sighting of pretty orange kitty Mochi, who does not join the exercises but entertains us nonetheless.
☙ Noticing the latest Cooking Illustrated magazine at the grocery store and thinking how my twenty-something nephew, who likes to cook, would enjoy finding this magazine in his mailbox.
☙ Making a fragrant and delicious chicken tagine with apricots for dinner the other evening. Using the American Test Kitchen's diabetic version of a North African dish, which includes chickpeas, carrots and onions along with spices like cinnamon, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, and paprika. The use of apricots in the dish is pure delight.
☙ Experiencing the pleasant satisfaction of sipping a cup of tea when it's not too hot, it's not too cold, but it's just right. A perfect Goldilocks moment.
☙ Reading J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderful tale The Hobbit and bumping into a passage that feels blissful: "They stayed long in that good house...and found it hard to leave. Bilbo would gladly have stopped there for ever and ever... (For Elrond's) house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley."
☙ Waking in the morning and finding it's no longer pitch black first thing.
☙ Sitting on the couch in the afternoon with sunshine streaming in, reading a book or listening blissfully to flute snippets of classical music on the radio.
☙ Remembering an old story told years ago by a fellow coworker. Our office howled at her tale about a funny experience her aunty once had in her own youth. Here's how I remember it:
It Happened One Morning on the TrolleyYears ago when women still donned hats and wore white gloves while going out in public, Rhonda's aunt was riding the trolley one morning on her way to work. No seats were available, so she held onto the strap above, swaying in the aisle as it lurched and bumped along. She must have taken her glove off to hang onto the strap, because it suddenly fell from her hand and landed neatly on the lap of a seated, slightly derelict old fellow, who had dozed off. Horrified to see her glove sitting primly on this old guy's lap—how would she retrieve it? Plucking it up was not an option, what with the trolley swaying back and forth.
While she pondered, the old fellow woke, reached for the bell pull, glanced down, and with nary a thought, or a chance for the aunty to mention the glove was hers, he grabbed and tucked it safely into his trousers; probably thought it was his shirt tail sticking out.
We wondered what the fellow must have thought when he got home that night and pulled off his trousers. What on earth! We wondered, too, what his wife thought when that glove fell out!
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"Blossom by blossom the spring begins."
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE
So fingers crossed and heart prayers whispered for safe passage through these soul traumatizing times—for you, for me, for others, as we go forth today. Take gentle care with yourself.
* * *
Here's wishing you beauty and delight this weekend.
Top Photo by Olenka Sergienko from Pexels