post by Lynn
My dog Sammy, God rest his soul, used to love to sniff my head and snuffle through my hair. When he finished, he always gave me one of those silly grins that labs are famous for.
Why did he love to sniff my head?
Hell if I know.
Why do any of us love what we love? I only know I was always glad to see Sammy happy, so I let him sniff away.
Which brings me to today’s topic:
If you are casting about for something to spark your creativity, as I always am, I suggest you give serious consideration to your delights.
Quite often, we creatives are elbowed into focusing on our pain, fears, regrets, and secrets. All well and good, and there is much to be had there. But don’t forget that there is treasure, too, in the things that glow in your life.
“The world is mud-luscious,”
- e.e. cummings.
Oooh, I think e.e. delighted in mud, don't you?
So, what delights you?
I am not talking about what you’re passionate about. Delight is different than passion. Less demanding, in my mind. I’m not talking about what makes you laugh either, although you may sometimes laugh in delight.
Delight is a very specific emotion. For me, it’s when something catches my attention and I simply stand, look, and smile. Or it’s when I notice that I’d really like to just hang out in a particular moment for a good, long time.
A few years ago, I started a Delights journal. The impulse came when I read this quote:
“I put in my pictures everything I like."
- Pablo Picasso
Hey--if it’s good enough for Picasso, it’s good enough for me.
It dawned on me that it might be fruitful to take note of things that spark delight in me. I selected a small notebook and started taping onto the pages images of (and written notes on) things I could honestly say delight me.
A sampling of what has made its way into this notebook:
Photo of a highway: open road, blue Wyoming sky overhead. It’s a very specific shade of blue, one that I miss whenever I am outside of my home state. I think it has something to do with almost total lack of moisture in the air 😊.
Image cut from a dog calendar: a hot, panting retriever with his belly on a cool spot.
Notation: a camping ritual – the comforting sensation of a steaming hot washcloth on my face just before bed.
Photo: of my grandnephew at age 5 or 6. It was his first mutton-busting competition and I delight in the set of his small shoulders as he concentrates on the upcoming challenge.
Image: clipped from an old copy of Wyoming Wildlife magazine, of a pika with a mouthful of grass. I mean, who can resist pikas?!
Notation: I heard a guy say, "I’m flustrated" – I don’t think he meant to coin a new term, but I think it’s, well, delightful and descriptive.
Notation: the feeling I get when my dog Luna is sleeping, and I tickle the hair between her paws until she kicks. Not sure I should admit that I take delight in pestering my dog this way, but I guess I have to own it, don’t I?
Photo: one Husband took at Curt Gowdy State Park (see above) where water reflects stone and pine, creating a disorienting and eye-delighting image.
Notation: watching the ducks at Mylar Park. There are few things more smile-inducing to me than a duck’s waddle or an upturned duck butt.
Photo (below): one I took at a gallery in Boulder, Colorado. I was fascinated by the installation, but delighted by the shadow it created on the wood floor.
My delights have found their way into my writing on occasion--as in a blog post, titled Whale Watching, where I riffled through my memory files and extracted a scene from a delightful adventure:
You turn in that direction just as a fountain of water spatters the surface of the sea. Then the maw of a blue whale rises up out of the liquid floor, followed by the massive barnacled slide of a whale body. Then the tail, etched with white scars, flips way up into the air and back down, slamming the surface.
A curtain of water splashes the crowd on the boat. Everybody laughs and applauds (as if the whale were performing a stunt). You giggle with your friends as you wipe the salty water from your face.
I know I’m not the only one who pays attention to my delights. I find evidence everywhere of it in the things I read:
Like Wyoming poet Pat Frolander, delighting in food (and making my mouth water):
Coffee burbles, potatoes steam, fresh bread awaits the knife, roast beef braises, brown gravy simmers.*
Or when Nebraska state poet Matt Mason delights in the memory of the submarine ride in Disneyland, (Ah, yes, Disneyland. I know it well. Can we go back there now?)
where it was…
as if you had
all gone under the waves and down
to Atlantis’ cracked pillars,
mermaids waving, undersea volcanoes. **
Sometimes I find it helps to have permission to do things, so...
By the power vested in me by absolutely no one, I hereby grant you permission to pay close attention to your delights.
In whatever fashion works for you, collect the evidence. Then see where it leads you.
If you write fiction, one of your delights might attach itself to your main character. Many fine works of art leak out of the artist’s delight in a particular scene or image.
How about penning a Five Delights song?
A gustatory masterpiece might develop from one of your taste delights.
So many options!
It sure can’t hurt to focus on your delights, and it might very well help.
“What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.”
– Robin Sharma
* From “Second Table” by Pat Frolander, published in Married Into It, Glendo, Wyo.: High Plains Press 2011.
** From “Ode to Submarine Voyage (1959 – 1998)” by Matt Mason, published in At the Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros, Old Mill Press, 2022