10 Apr
2019
Posted in: Books, Practice
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I am Delighted

Last night a friend gave me The Book of Delights, by poet Ross Gay, which (so far) seems to be one of the most Buddhist non-Buddhist books I’ve ever come across, beginning with the concept for the book — which is a PRACTICE — that I think I’m going to try to take on (with some adjustment).

Gay writes: “One day last July, feeling delighted and compelled to both wonder about and share that delight, I decided that it might feel nice, even useful, to write a daily essay about something delightful. I remember laughing to myself for how obvious it was. I could call it something like The Book of Delights.

“I came up with a handful of rules: write a delight every day for a year; begin and end on my birthday, August 1; draft them quickly; and write them by hand. The rules made it a discipline for me. A practice. Spend time thinking and writing about delight every day.”

*** Not sure how contemplating “delight” fits into Buddhist practice? Stay tuned for my next series of Study & Practice classes! (Details coming soon.) ***

Gay’s first entry begins: “It’s my forty-second birthday. And it would make perfect (if self-involved) sense to declare the day of my birth a delight, despite the many years I’ve almost puritanically paid no attention to it. A sad performance of a certain masculine nonchalance, nonflamboyance? Might’ve been, poor thing. Now it’s all I can do not to bedeck myself in every floral thing imaginable–today both earrings and socks.

“Oh! And my drawers, hibiscus patterned, with the coddling pocket in front to boot. And if there’s some chance to wear some bright and clanging colors, believe me. Some bit of healing for my old man, surely, who would warn us against wearing red, lest we succumb to some stereotype I barely even know. (A delight that can heal our loved ones, even the dead ones.) Oh broken. Oh beautiful.

“So let me first say, yes, mostly, the day of my birth is an utter and unmitigated delight, and not only for the very sweet notes I sometimes get that day–already five by 8:15am, from Taiwan, the Basque Country, Palo Alto, Bloomington, and Frenchtown, New Jersey–but also for the actual miracle of a birth, not just the beautifully zany and alien and wet and odorous procedure that is called procreation, but for the many thousand–million!–accidents–no, impossibilities!–leading to our births.

“For god’s sake, my white mother had never even met a black guy! My father failed out of Central State (too busy looking good and having fun, so they say), got drafted, and was counseled by his old man to enlist in the navy that day so as not to go where the black and brown and poor kids go in the wars of America. And they both ended up, I kid you not, in Guam. Black man, white woman, the year of Loving v. Virginia, on a stolen island in the Pacific, a staging ground for American expansion and domination. Comes some babies, one of them me. Anyway, you get it; the older I get–in all likelihood closer to my death than to my birth, despite all the arugula and quinoa–the more I think of this day as a delight.”

***

It goes on — delightfully — from there. Go get the book! And while you’re at it, get two (or more) and give them to friends. They will love you for it.

(Thank you, Brian!)

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