Brainstorm with me. Add your own thoughts in the comments below.
1. What “delight” means, is:
– Associated with kids, especially babies
– What delights kids often makes adults cranky. Why? Example: today’s snow storm
– So, as adults do we somehow learn that delight has a price? – sex, snow, drugs, flying, eating candy
– What delights are free? Good smells, amazing views, sleep, smiles
– How can we promote delight? – HooplaHa website http://hooplaha.com
– Are there retreats for reclaiming a sense of delight?
– Where does delight live? Is it contagious?
2. Where do I find delight? Where do you?
– Visual Cues: sunset/sunrise, flocks of birds that whoosh overhead, kids playing outside, animals playing, my family opening presents, lightning at night, babies of any species, vast landscapes where I can see the sky meet the ground, Times Square at night
– Scents: food cooking, cookies baking, bread baking, lilacs, night-blooming flowers that surprise my nose when I’m out with my dogs, perfume, after-shave, vanilla, coffee
– Sounds: my daughter’s violin-playing, the garage door opening when my husband comes home, popcorn popping, my son’s greeting over the phone, crows, robins right before it rains, dogs’ paws running across our wood floors, thunder, geese honking overhead, the refrain from Rancid’s “Up to No Good”, wind through tall pines, the ocean, silence after fresh snow, hearing anyone say “I love you”
– Touch: soft leather, my husband’s beard, the backs of my dogs’ heads, a warm bath, my back up against a fireplace, cotton sheets that have been washed a million times, cushy new hiking socks
– Taste: the first sip of fresh coffee in the morning, hot buttery popcorn, still-warm chocolate chip cookies, the first raspberry off the bush in the summer, the first sun-warmed tomato off the vine, steak just off the grill
– Mood: the warmth of Thanksgiving or any meal where a bunch of people come together in someone’s house, cooking for others, the first leg of a road trip, stumbling on the perfect gift for someone, having a happy dog run up to greet me, getting surprise flowers, learning how to fix something, being thanked for anything
3. Delightful characters from books (mostly children’s)
– Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)
– Skink (Carl Hiaasen)
– Paddington Bear
– Ford Prefect (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
– Many of the creatures from Dr. Seuss books – Horton, Cat in the Hat, Mack (the turtle who topples Yertle), Cindy Lou Who, Max (the Grinch’s dog)
4. And now back to an important question: How do we cultivate delight?
As a grown-up in Minnesota, I sometimes think there is a shortage of delight around here. Today is a good example, with the snow that is falling right now, as I type, and its accompanying travel challenges. The weather forecasters have been warning us for two days about this snow storm which, as far as I can tell, is pretty minor in the metro area. Yes, it’s a bit slick (I was out in this stuff a little while ago) and, yes, that means we all have to slow down and be careful. Total accumulation is minor – just a few inches here – and there’ll be blowing and drifting later today. Yes, it’s got a pain-in-the-ass factor and outstate Minnesota has blizzard warnings. So, all in all, not a delightful time.
Yet, here I am, glancing out my office window every now and then to look at the swirling snowflakes which will soon stop. It’s March; spring is in sight, days are slowly warming, and we are coming to the end of the season of storms that make us stay home. I told someone recently that storms that make me stay home make me happy somehow. Perhaps it’s the forced slowing down, the removal of any requirement to be out somewhere else. Perhaps it’s the reminder that we aren’t in charge, the nudge to make sure things at home are ready for us including food and candles and shovels. Maybe it’s the way storms grab our attention away from the electronics in our lives, sometimes by knocking the power out. Storms are immediate. They push us into the moment that we’ve been ignoring while we’re doing something else.
Delight is there in the little things. This morning, when I was out meeting a friend for coffee, we talked about that. She told me that it doesn’t take much to delight her. In fact, her list of things had similarities with mine – the sights and sounds of nature ranked high on her delight scale. She loves the image of the Minneapolis skyline that she sees every morning when she drives to work.
I get that. Every time I drive somewhere, I catch glimpses of things that make me happy. There’s a spot on 35W coming into Minneapolis from the north where I often notice flocks of birds that suddenly lift off from downtown buildings and fly along the freeway for a second, as if they know their airborne highway is swifter than ours and we are fools. I imagine them looking down at the humans in cars, stuck in rush hour, while they rise and fall and swerve away in amusement. Yes, that delights me.
Often, I exit 35W onto Washington Avenue. That corner, where the exit ramp intersects with Washington, is a spot where people stand with signs that identify them as homeless. The signs ask for help, often say, “God bless”. There are regulars who stand there, rotating in shifts. I’ve come to recognize them, give money when I have it. But most cars that come around that corner have windows firmly closed. When I see someone lean out, give a little, and see the smile from the person standing there, that delights me. Someone in a car has seen, really seen, someone else standing on the street.
Delight can come from within and it can be influenced by that which is around us. Cultivating it is a matter of noticing the whole of what we have, where we are. So it’s snowing today. Big deal. There’s something delightful somewhere around here – snowflakes, fresh sheets, coffee, a warm bus, a radio station playing classical music, a dog sleeping on the bed.
Go find your delight. The wind will die down. The snow will melt. Soon it will be spring.