Present | August 2022.

It didn’t take me long to learn that the discipline or practice of writing these essays occasioned a kind of delight radar. Or maybe it was more like the development of a delight muscle. Something that implies that the more you study delight, the more delight there is to study … I also learned this year that my delight grows — much like love and joy — when I share it.

Ross Gay, The Book of Delights

I finished Ross Gay’s delightful Book of Delights this month. It sat on my nightstand for nearly a month while I savored just a few essays each night. Truly, that was some of the best before-bed reading I’ve had in a while.

I loved how varied the topics were – carports, the poetry on church signs, trains, birds, painted flowers on a mid-century drinking glass, hard s*@! about being a Black, gay man in this country – and how Gay studied (practiced?) delight, not only by noticing, exploring, and writing about it, but also by sharing it. In a nutshell, this book was about being Present, finding hope, listening, sharing kindness, being curious, and, when needed, letting go. In short, it was this month’s lesson for my OLW … tied up with a bow!

It’s been two weeks since I finished the book; it’s not quite long enough to know which lessons will really stick – still:

  1. Delight is a practice – practice requires you to be PRESENT.
  2. Practice requires … practice!
  3. Paying attention is key. You can’t find delight in what you don’t even notice.
  4. It is ok (and maybe even a good thing) to find delight in hard s*@! We don’t have to find that s*@! delightful, but we can find delight in that s*@! … in the people, the relationships, the utter absurdity of the situation, or even the color of a t-shirt. It’s still delight. and it still matters.
  5. Shared delight is SHARED DELIGHT (this photo is 10 years old and it still brings me delight).
Sara & Katie – 2012

And in that spirit of sharing, here are a few things that (recently) sparked delight for me:

  1. Finding a connection about Josephine Baker in two books I was reading (I googled her the first time and then remembered about that when I saw her name again).
  2. References to knitting in books (The Colony, Case Studies). and extreme delight if it forwards the plot (The Colony).
  3. A conversation with Marc this morning about Chip and Dale and Peter, the critters who are likely snatching his tomatoes before they even begin to ripen. I know Marc is really frustrated and when we name the “culprits”, and picture them scampering down the lawn, tossing a very green tomato aside after one tiny bite because “oh my, too tart” or “oh my, too hard” it makes us laugh … together.
  4. Empty space on my calendar (and the opportunity to write a blog post).
  5. Those gray curls doing their thing. gah, y’all, it took me way too many tries to get the photo I shared above. Seems no matter how many times I tell myself to let it go … I forget. I wish so much for all of us that we could find DELIGHT in how(who) we ARE.

and that, my friends, is another lovely lesson in PRESENT.

Thank you again to Carolyn for hosting this monthly connection. and thank all of you for being part of my story. xxoo.

15 thoughts on “Present | August 2022.

  1. Love the idea of a delight muscle-which to be strong needs practice. Great reminder in this post.

  2. What a lovely post. It reminds me of Mary Oliver writing, “I do know how to pay attention. I am going to look for this book of essays. I need delight these days. By the way, you look darling in your pink sweater and gray curls.

  3. Ross Gay’s new book, “Inciting Joy”, is coming out October 25! It’s another collection of essays, with this from the publisher’s blurb: “Ross Gay considers the joy we incite when we care for each other, especially during life’s inevitable hardships. Throughout Inciting Joy, he explores how we can practice recognizing that connection, and also, crucially, how we expand it.” It sounds good to me!

  4. That book is on my TBR list. Thank you for spurring me on to move it to the top of the list!

    Wonderful month for you! (photo and all!)

  5. Ross Gay’s Book of Delights is one of my all-time favorites. I love to just pick it up and open it to read randomly. I try to read everything he writes, and i’m looking forward to his new book of essays coming out soon.

  6. This whole post is just delightful! (how bout that??) I am going to look for this book – it does sound wonderful. Love that picture of you Mary – you look so good with your grey curls. I love that you and Marc name the critters nabbing your produce. We have Steve the Beav (our resident groundhog – when Colin was a toddler he thought Steve was really a beaver!!). Fletch fenced our garden this year, so no damage from Steve or the deer!

  7. Having a broken arm and not being able to “do” my hair and a face that is one half a big bruise has helped me to “let it go”. What choice do I have? To hide, to wear a veil? LOL “Delights” was a fun read and “Inciting Joy” sounds great, too! You find the beauty and joy in every day, Mary. Thank you for that.

  8. You’ve made me want to re-read The Book of Delights! I’m glad you are finding delight in so many ways, especially being present.

  9. Coincidentally, I read Ross Gay’s book in exactly the same fashion! It really was the best nighttime reading… We’re in a bit of ‘a spot’ here. A hard one. And I’m trying to find tender moments in the midst of the hard ones to, well, Iove, I suppose. Maybe that’s one of those books I need to own, not just check out from my trusty library!
    And I love how you were able to find a book that encompasses your month’s work with your word. (I would be absolutely tickled to just have that sort of…happen…serendipitously every month!! Wouldn’t that be fun?!)

  10. I loved The Book of Delights and I look forward to reading his new book! I like how you connected the practice of finding delight with the practice of being present.
    I think your gray curls look great! My gray hair is just the opposite of yours, very fine and poker straight.

  11. I shall find The Book of Delights! Such a great outlook to put into practice. And the grey curls…you rock them Mary!

  12. Ross Gay is one of my favorites! The Book of Delights is such a good reminder that it’s necessary to practice finding the delightful. His book is one of the reasons why I always write about joy on Fridays. I love your curls, Mary. They look great! (And it’s 2:01 on 9/6 as I type this and I’m ready for the short list to be announced!!)

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