Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nurturing an Enduring Capacity for Delight

Clouds in the street

When I awoke from my back surgery in the hospital several years ago, I was overcome with a feeling of delight, and it wasn't just because of the morphine and other drugs. This feeling of delight was made more vivid by the setting, and with contrast to the anxiety/fear sensibly connected to having someone dremel around inside your spine. Add in the bonus of having the surgeon tell me that my dura had torn during the surgery, which can happen, so I would have to lie immobile for at least 24 hours until I stopped leaking spinal fluid (hopefully).

But none of the negatives really mattered, because when I woke up, my back felt right. Which was stunning, actually, because it had felt wrong for so long, utterly screwed up and often wracked with excruciating pain, so to wake up and find that it felt normal, in spite of the recent cutting and dremelling around my spinal cord, enforced immobility, leaking dura and whatnot, was delightful.

You never know where you'll find it, so make ready for it

The purpose of this anecdote about my surgery was not to activate squeamishness (note the distinct lack of MRI photos of bulging discs, impinged spinal nerves, and obviously screwed up vertebrae herein), but rather to provide a significant background experience which contributed greatly to my conclusion that delight is as much (or more) in the eye (or spinal cord) of the beholder as in the object of delight.

This is relevant to me personally since it has struck me lately that a capacity for experiencing delight is not a given, but in fact can be lessened, decreased, diluted, slowly eroded away by time, etc, by all the many potential sources of resistance to the feeling of delight out there, and in here (points at own head). Life, I think, may have the ability to suck the delight right out of you, if you let it.  

Angles, the big picture, mindset, a bike ride home: bring on the delight

Sources of delight may not be constantly present. I understand. Or, at least, omnidelight is not the present topic. Awareness and openness to delight, though, a mindset conducive to experiencing it, an openness or seeking of it, appear likely to me to increase the chances of not overlooking something more than worthy of the firing of your primary delight neurons.

Sometimes, I think back to that hospital, one of my least favorite places on earth mind you and I've been to some pretty unfavorable spots on this planet, remember the delight I felt at the sense of rightness in my back, and I wonder: what, other than me, is standing in my way of discovering delight on my ride today? Who, other than me, is responsible for nurturing an enduring capacity for delight?


  1. Those are really nice photos. It does usually seem to be the little things that you discover, often when alone, that bring delight.

    1. Thanks, maccandace. Turning a corner and finding an unexpected mural also helps, doesn't it?

  2. John, I thought the photos you took were very interesting, but the written commentary was even better!

    1. Gracias Pimadude. Those clouds swimming around in those puddles were stunning in person, too.


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