Delights: November 13 to November 19

November 13:  Last week, I reported being baffled by people’s delight in my jacket and scarf. And I reported it as my own delight. Several of you wondered, “You clearly still don’t like the jacket, so what’s going on? Where’s your delight?” I’ve pondered that question, but you had already devised the answer: I delighted in others’ delight. So I’ve gone back and cleaned out the word-stones I’d thrown on the path, and let the delight shine unambiguously. My delight was my own surprise (and delight) in others’ surprised delight. It also emerged from my sheepish pleasure in (occasionally) relinquishing control.

November 14: I was hooked immediately. First, the percussion was inventive and compelling. Then I tumbled into the rhymes, which followed strict poetic structure, like AA BB BB AA. (I loved the scrappy internal rhymes best, spit out like Daveed Diggs in Hamilton.) Finally, I marveled at the speed and clarity of the flow: the cadence swept me up, the lyrics demanded my attention. Dense, rich, rewarding. Thank you, my friend Kenny, for sharing your three new songs with me. One audition locked. Keep flying.

November 15: Imagine hundreds of tiny pieces of art freckling pink and green walls. Imagine a hundred young people in a pop-up art gallery in Washington, DC, circling the artists with good cheer and encouragement. Imagine Japanese hotdogs (crispy ramen noodles and Spam: surprisingly yummy!) and happy visitors clutching new treasures. And, finally, see my dear friend Kasia, who has already sold two of her tiny bright poetic collages. I’m only a little jealous of those lucky people and a lot happy.

pth5mwc7r82grw3fxtq15a.jpgNovember 16: Ok, here’s a recurring energizing delight. I love a job well done, a talent brilliantly deployed, a moment of exquisite artistry. I especially like being surprised. Perhaps the ballpark usher suddenly offers God Bless America in a magnificent soprano. Or maybe the cab driver executes a nifty solution to an intractable snarl. Or the pilot calmly explains the turbulence in a way that lets me almost ignore it. Or the polish on a stair rail is perfect. Or my husband, a very gifted counselor, guides a couple deftly and kindly to resonant powerful insights. Ordinary people do those things because they’re skillful and because they care. Let us see and applaud.

November 17: For two days this weekend, Kevin and I sat in the radiance of a remarkable, wise woman who is trying to heal the world one couple at a time. Without fail, her greetings are joyful, her eyes meet yours, and you feel for 10 or even 30 seconds that you are whole and perfect and beloved. Her name is Hedy Schleifer. We have the same hair cut and the same watches (her idea), and we both love big necklaces. My goal now is nothing more than to radiate her joy and inhabit her wisdom. Here’s a sample of things she said in passing this weekend: 

  • Often our angriest places, or our saddest places, or our most fearful places are places of great longing. Go to those places and honor your longing.
  • We teach best what we’ve learned with great difficulty and with great teachers.
  • Patience is the muscle of connection. Exercise it.
  • When you are in connection with others, Providence sends gifts.
  • Maximize living, not the number of days. I want every day to be a good day to die.
  • Be delighted — and show your delight — when you greet a friend. Imagine how they’ll feel if you say with your eyes, “Ooh, it’s you!”

That last one is my favorite piece of wisdom, I think. (Along with her Henry James remonstrance to live all you can.) Maybe three times tomorrow, each of us can allow our faces to brighten absurdly when we encounter a stranger, a colleague, a friend or a family member. Maybe our eyes and our smile can radiate delighted surprise to them: “Ooh, it’s you!” And maybe that moment of connection will be the best moment of their day.

November 18: I stepped outside this morning expecting it to be cold. Instead it smelled like field hockey. Autumn field hockey, when it had rained the day before and the air, if not exactly warm, was at least kindly aware of us. We played in a clearing behind the Little Silver firehouse, about a mile from the high school and a mile from our house. Kathy, Dianne and I, along with a dozen other girls, ran back and forth every autumn afternoon. Our skirts sometimes flipped up to show our grundys, which were made for that purpose. Our fingers gripped rug-handled hockey sticks and our noses inhaled the tang of fall leaves.

uhsx4ko9sheehxnm22fflg.jpgNovember 19: Like stars, the lights crested the hill, then tumbled down, dizzying me, even though my car gripped the dark road. I was on my way to yoga this morning when eight or nine bicycles approached me. The hill, the darkness, and the constellation of bicycle headlamps launched me through space. I watched the twinkling galaxy pedal past me, perhaps to pierce the next driver’s sky.

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