I thought I’d take a break from the serious writing stuff and share something I wrote nearly a year ago (2/1/2020) about delight, and crying. The good kind.
Background: OPB*, “The Show of Delights”
So, I’m getting ready to get out of my car at Starbucks, but I can’t seem to stop listening to the radio. It’s OPB, airing a This American Life segment about Delight. It is oddly delightful, beginning with the story of a poet who wrote a book about deliberately finding delight in his life every day for a year and what he learned about that.
Turns out, it had a lot to do with curiosity and being open to finding new things that bring delight. It’s also about embracing your inner child, who sees everything as new–not the jaded way we adults look at things. Like when a kid runs in telling all the adults in the room that there’s a rainbow outside–a fairly common occurrence–and everyone runs outside and “shares a gasp” with each other.
There’s another act where a daughter tells the story of her aging mother who decides one day she has just so much time left, so she’s going to dedicate it to finding delights. This adventure annoys her daughter, who has to help her out doing “whatever she wants,” involving a lot of spontaneity that her daughter seems too adult to put up with. Then one day, while interviewing her mom about this thing she’s doing, the daughter finally “gets it” and seems transformed.
This is followed by another segment following a girl who works at a zoo, at night, putting the animals to bed. I won’t go into everything that happens there, but it’s my favorite part. She sounds so young and (dare I say) cute. The narrator following her on her rounds does also. But that’s not the reason I can’t get out of my car on a cold night, despite coffee and warmth nearby urging me to vacate my rapidly chilling car on a January night.
Instead, I was enthralled by this girl who has what seems to me to be a dream job, where she’s finding delight in caring for all of these animals who frankly could be in a better place (nature), but it’s her job to make them happy anyway. And it’s obvious that the animals appreciate her for it.
For some reason, by the end of this segment, tears are running down my face and I’m truly moved… but I’m honestly not sure why. Perhaps it’s the happy young voices and my inner child wishing I could have gone into a more fun career when I was younger. Perhaps I’m suffering an onset of hypothermia.
Whatever the explanation, I suddenly get the feeling that when I cry this way it means something. Something important.
What’s Happy Crying For
Okay, so I’m finally indoors ordering my coffee at the counter, all the while distracted thinking about happy crying and what it means … To me; perhaps to everyone. If only we knew. When we cry like that, quietly, delightedly, movedly**… doesn’t it feel like a reward of some kind? A gift from life?
When things feel so unexplainably, primally good, could this be something evolution built in a long time ago to say, “Yes. This.”
At this moment, I want this to be true so much that I force myself to sit down and write this note you’re now reading, because I know from experience that when you have these feelings, once you stray away from them, they fade. Like a dream, leaving a vague notion of Epiphanies Lost.
When I don’t write things down I spend the rest of the day feeling sad about losing something I don’t remember. I can almost hear the Universe in those moments, in the background softly murmur, “Okay, maybe next time.”
But it’s a sad murmur, because I think if there’s this complex thing called life, there must actually be a wonderful purpose to it, because we Keep Doing It for so long, all of us Animals of Earth. And the Universe is sincerely trying to tell us this, or our own DNA, or whatever it is that gives us that little nudge in our hearts when we do something right. Like crying at the good bits of life.
Or perhaps it’s some giant metaphysical machine churning away, like the mice in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Who knows how stuff really works.
To go to all this trouble of being born, learning how to walk, talk, think, make friends, learn complex algebra, and become creators of whatever our own reality and hearts desire… there really must be a deeper purpose to all that.
And how else will we know which way to go with our own purpose in life than to pay attention when life rewards us, like it does when we do sex right (I mean truly, mutually right). Or make someone smile. Or cry, happily, like there’s too much loveliness inside we can’t quite contain it.
A Happy Mission
So, like that early OPB segment, about the poet who spent a year recognizing and writing about Delights, I’m having this sudden urge to spend a year (or more) keeping track of the things that make me happy cry, and seeing where that attention leads me.
Because I get the feeling that the Universe really is trying to help us find our happiness, even if it does have all of these nasty obstructions ready for us to climb over. But then without things to overcome, how will we find the joy of accomplishment?
So, Cry #1 is this: Noticing the magic of crying at stuff. Yay!
* OPB: Oregon Public Broadcasting (the local affiliate of National Public Radio).
** Yes, I am horribly guilty of inventing my own adjectives. Sue me. Or give me a cupcake! ^_^