I’ve written before about how my daughter and I have been discussing our gratitude every night, and how oral gratitude journaling helped my daughter through the time I had COVID. On the day I recorded this OneHE/Equity Unbound resource about gratitude journaling, I also learned about Ross Gay’s Book of Delights. When I met the lovely folks at ThinqStudio to prep for my keynote for them March 19th (see my blogpost about that from yday), they told me the closing invited discussant was Ross Gay, and I immediately said “the delight guy!”. Since then, I’ve finally started reading his book and listened to this podcast about his work on essaying (he calls them essayettes) daily delights.
Before I start journaling some delights (I’ll do several because I’m thinking of giving this as an assignment to my students: find a way to express one of your delights in a way that would help the reader/viewer “feel” what you felt when you experienced this thing. And I want to experiment with different forms of this – text, image, video…. what else?) I just wanted to say a couple of things that Ross Gay mentions that are worth repeating.
First, that to feel delight does not mean we don’t experience sorrow. Sometimes, we feel the delight because of our sorrow, even. I’m not 100% sure exactly how he meant it, but I feel it big time post-COVID. Some of these are obvious things. I’ve always delighted in my daughter’s hugs and kisses, but after 10 days of not hugging her, every touch now has so much more value. I think cuddling is my favorite thing. Also, after my mother-in-law came out of ICU, she was understandably depressed, and whenever I could see her, I would bring with me something for her, new PJs, new wool cap to keep her warm, new socks… and there was a moment when I was talking to her about something really mundane, and she laughed. And that laughter of hers delighted me because I knew she had not laughed in a long time. So yeah, I can totally see the delight after sorrow thing in that way. And of course the totally selfish delight in being able to go out in the sunshine and feel the breeze without a mask on.
Second, in his book, he talks about how “essay” comes from the French word “essai” as in to try (I know this as verb “essayer”) and I really like the notion of essay as an attempt and not a finished product, necessarily. I wonder how students would feel about “essaying” as a process (Tressie McMillan-Cottom has a newsletter called Essaying – and she writes the best essays, I love Thick).
Third thing, this delight journaling thing helps lift our mood. As you start to recall and expand on what delights you, you spend more time thinking about this positive thing. I still have so much negativity in my life, so much bad news, everywhere, and I’m not ignoring it, just taking time to delight in the little things.
Anyway, so here goes my attempt at essaying some daily delights… and I’ll do it in different way. Some are going to be just a list of short like tiny tales of things that delight me, just to show how different they are from each other. And then I’ll do some visuals and a longer story of something that delighted me thigs morning. Here goes
- I like grapefruit, and my kid loves pink grapefruit. A strange thing that delights me is… she doesn’t like eating the white rind stuff around the juicy piece of fruit, so I sort of “excavate” it for her to eat… and what delights me is that there is always a little bit of juice left in the grapefruit, and squeezing it into a glass to drink (it can’t be more than a 100ml or so) feels like a gift to myself and it delights me
- Speaking of which, I also take delight in photos of fresh fruit… so here is one (in case you don’t like grapefruit, of fruits and fruit smoothies)
- I learned that I delight in giving gifts to others. I enjoy the process of buying things for them and then giving them. Strangely, I buy giftcards a lot, when I feel the person might prefer to choose what they want, but I guess I enjoy getting actual chosen gifts a lot more. But I also enjoy getting and giving gift cards
- I love reading, I love that my daughter loves reading (though she has had her ups and downs and now we’re mostly on “graphic novels” mostly, but I used to like those too.. I just also enjoyed regular books, too. And so I also love buying books, in general, more than I can ever read, and I love that Kindle allows me to get almost any book I want “right now” and that my AUC library can get me (almost) any academic eBook I want within 48 hours free. I delighted in discovering a free trial Comixology subscription on Amazon so my kid could keep reading comics for free (or even when we start paying, it’s still a good deal, better than the Kindle Unlimited deal, if someone wants to read mostly comics).
- Since I’ve had my child, I’ve started to enjoy shopping for little girl things. I am not at all someone who likes to wear stuff that is overly colorful, I don’t like bling, I very rarely wear jewelry. But since my daughter likes bling and accessories and rainbows, I’ve started to seek this kind of thing for myself, and not just for her. My mom always told me she used to “dress for me” and I was like “I’m not that vain, I am not that person” but she was right (as mothers often are) and I’ve become that person. I dress for my child! Yesterday, particularly, I delighted in shopping with my daughter at Accessorize, mainly buying gifts for others (3 in one delight! With my child, buying gifts, from a girl shop with colors and bling!)
- Speaking of colors and bling, my daughter and I delight in creating slide templates for my presentations. For work, I use formal stuff. For my keynotes and classes I get free CC0 type images and sometimes I make my own using apps and I love them
- I have a very special place in my heart for music in *general* but a superspecial place for string quartets playing pop music using violins and stuff. I’m inserting two YouTube videos of two my favorites. One I heard first at an OLC conference or something, and the other I first heard on the Netflix series Bridgerton. I think part of this particular delight is because my father used to listen to Paul Mauriat remixes of classical and pop music, and I grew up listening to those. Listening to them now reminds me of my dad… and these are sort of more modern versions of that. I also used to like some violin versions of Pink Floyd songs, so I’m adding a Paul Mauriat favorite (Love is Blue) – and also blue is my fave color…. and Pink Floyd instrumental (Hey You) which I now realize is also Vitamin String quartet.
- And of course these two special post COVID delights:
- Cuddles with my daughter after 10 days of not-touching while I had COVID
- My mother-in-law’s laughter, after her spirits were way down after coming out of ICU
OK now for the longer delight. More like what Ross Gay describes in his book.
Delighting in Pigeons
Watching birds, not as in “bird watching” but generally, is something I have always enjoyed. when I was pregnant, I would sit in my parent’s living room and watch them come on their veranda. My mom now feeds them regularly, so they come a lot. There are different types of birds. The one my daughter and I delight in most, and which we watched today, was a kind of brown dove, but we call it a pigeon for ease. There were maybe 4 or 5 of them. And one of them looked extra special with a tail that is longer than usual. And then one of the funny and delightful things to watch is a male of the species puffing up his feathers in a flirting mating ritual, and my daughter and I started to sort of narrate what was happening. He approached one female, who shunned him and flew a way, then another, then another (“maybe they don’t want to date today”, my kid said) but then another one who kept walking ahead but not leaving completely… and we thought maybe she was just making him enjoy the chase instead of giving in quickly… but then, in an unexpected turn of events, the male turned away from her and started eating in the plant pot where my mom puts food for them. We wondered if he had given up… but then the female joined him, so perhaps he thought to ask for out for dinner first or something. We had this watching/conversation while my kid was eating breakfast at my mom’s place today… and it was a delightful way to spend a morning. I didn’t take photos, but I should have. My kid loves taking videos of pigeons. She was once taking a video of two pigeons outside our own living room window (not at my mom’s) and as soon as she stopped the recording, they actually mated right in front of us!!! It was a little frustrating coz we couldn’t start her phone camera fast enough for some reason and my phone was too far away! It’s because these moments are difficult to capture permanently that they are delightful when you see them live… (I know experts manage to capture them just fine!)
I need to stop here because I have a meeting.
Another small delight is that I spent my morning writing this post rather than doing some left over administrative work I’m late on. Yes, I’m late. Past the deadline. Sorry, boss. I needed to spend my morning doing this instead.
But finally… I love sunsets and this image (not one I took, though I take many of my own) delighted me the other day