acedia

My dear Ruthi,

I went looking for this photo of Ellie spinning in the rain. It is one of my top-10 most fav. I don’t think I have another photo that captures anything about joy more than this one.

It is surprising to discover it was taken on my birthday a few years ago. Neither Ellie, Carson or I remember that about it.

Because I took photos, I can tell you that I came home to a surprise delivery of flowers. We went out for sushi as a family, then came home and played cards. How luck am I that I don’t even remember? Joy is so commonplace, these threads didn’t connect into something out of the ordinary.

What I do remember is joy and fear and frustration and contentment all mixed into that one hour at the creek “Under the Bridge” as we like to call it. And awareness that I was facing joy blocks right in the moment.

I remember squabbles between the twins. I remember the excitement of numerous critter finds. I remember trying to work out my limitations as a photographer. I remember feeling grateful for this piece of nature so close to home and having kids who relish the delights of the wild world like I do. I remember wondering where the sunny afternoon went. I remember the surprise at how quickly and violently the creek filled with runoff water pumped from the street above. I remember fretting about the technology I had with me and how I was going to get it the long walk back to the car without damaging it. I remember worrying about safety regarding the kids around the water and my permissive and arguably neglectful parenting. I remember Ellie spinning. I remember them dancing in the rain.

I likely wouldn’t have gone if I’d known it was going to rain.

It makes me think of the joy blocks you mentioned. All the gifts of the moment. And all the feelings we have despite them. Or because of them.

How is poetry not production for a poet?
That is insanity to me.

And yet,
I totally get it.
I do it in my own way, daily.

(BTW that wasp on the screen image is AWESOME!)

As I sat today working on a personal project feeling like I should be working on something else entirely, I listened to a recommended Oprah podcast with David Brooks. He released a new book last year, The Second Mountain. I’d like to get my hands on it.

  • Joy is not found in satisfying your desires. It is found in changing your desires so you have the best desires.
  • happiness is satisfying the self, joy is transcending the self
  • when we give ourselves up to joy, that’s magic

Brooks had a tough 2013 too. Through it he transformed many of his ideas, including a belief in god. He now believes “there is something magical and enchanted about the world.” And he’s okay turning “woo woo.”

I will have to go back and re-listen to find the source of the quote, “I love her more than evolution required.”

I love that.

They spoke of acedia. The loss of desire. A plague of our times. An interesting rabbit hole. For another time.

With love,

Jules

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