It’s early, but I’m planning on being delighted today? This sounds like I’m fantasizing about the future. What’s wrong with being delighted now? Heck, I’ve just written thirty or so words. That, in itself, is something to be delighted about.
What does it take for you to experience delight? This begs a definition. Delight. “a feeling of extreme pleasure or satisfaction; something or someone that provides a source of happiness.”
Let me start with the word ‘satisfaction.’ Most all my life, especially my adult life, I’ve been dissatisfied, discontented. I always wanted more. I believed that if I accomplished one more thing, I’d be the person I was meant to be. In other words, I’d find my god-given purpose. I became adept at creating challenges for myself, and I would, as they say, “bust butt” to achieve the goal. Ultimately, all this changed once I realized no one (including God) had a plan for my life, that my life purpose wasn’t created before I was born. No, it was up to me to create my own meaning.
Now that I’m sixty-eight, it’s relatively easy to see the many wrong turns I made along life’s journey. I might say I’ve come full circle back to my early childhood. Then (at least that’s what I’ve been told), I would spend hours playing in the dirt with my toy army men, driving nails in an old wagon anchored by time to the back pasture, and exploring the woods and fields surrounding our place with my dog Laddie.
Better late than never, the saying goes. The words ring true, at least for me, today. What about you?
Whatever the path that got me here, I have a growing interest in the present. Some say that’s all we have, and we don’t have much of that. For example, I duplicated this writing at 5:23 AM and at 5:28 AM to measure my progress. Turns out, both drafts were the same. I hadn’t written a single word during that five minutes. But, you know what, it’s now 5:58 AM. Gone forever is that five minute span. So, time keeps marching on. I want to be satisfied, DELIGHTED, now. Forget, tomorrow.
I still remember Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Although I no longer believe in anything supernatural, I draw meaning and encouragement from these words. Today is the day, now is the moment, to experience delight. And, the things that stir such feeling don’t have to be complex or expensive. The simplest pleasures are the best. Another saying I recall.
As a young boy I found hours of delight in playing in the dirt with my little green army men. It can be the same today, even now. It’s been two hours since I poured my coffee and it has grown lukewarm. But, it’s still tasteful, enjoyable, with its tad of milk and a little sweetener. I’ll rewarm it later, but this shouldn’t deprive me of delight right now. Another sip, another feeling of satisfaction.
Delight seems to spawn thankfulness. I could be that person who doesn’t have any coffee but yet wants a cup, or two. He doesn’t have any because he’s poor, or he’s facing some medical procedure that forbids coffee. This morning, I can have my coffee. I’m thankful.
One thing that used to drive me to the next challenge was that I was bored. Or, that’s what I thought at the time. Now, I know I was deluding myself. Sam Harris says that “boredom is simply the lack of paying attention.” I think he’s right.
Living in the now is all about paying attention. Could we say that finding delight in the ordinary things of life, the mundane experiences of the every day, depends in great part on paying attention?
We don’t have to go on vacation, or to a party, or orchestrate anything. Most of us are blessed with an abundance of ordinariness all around us. I suspect you might be a little like me. Paying attention (and feeling pleasure or satisfaction) is something that might take some effort, some self-training.
Trained or not, let’s begin. Find something to look at. I’m sitting at my desk writing this but, as I often do, I see a five inch by five inch plaque someone gave me. It has a saying by Theodore Roosevelt (I’ve since learned he, in his autobiography, attributed the words to Squire Bill Widener, of Widener’s Valley, Virginia). Here are the words: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I might simply add, do it now, or, start doing it now.
Isn’t life just a cumulative pile of individual moments? Whatever you’re looking at, it soon, very soon, will become a part of your pile. For some of us, our moments are gathered together into mountains, even ranges of mountains. I’d rather many of my moments stay buried, but they’re quite a few that bring delight.
Take time today to pay attention to the dripping faucet, the half-filled glass, your reflection in the window, the grandkids toys sitting idle awaiting their next visit.
Afterwards, think about the feeling you got from paying attention. Can you align it with delight? Are you delighted with delight?
Describe this feeling in words. Write a few of them down.