Making space and time for delight

Dear President Trump,

I can’t remember if I told you about it back at the end of January when it came out, but I’ve had a tab open on my browser since 1/31/20 set to the This American Life podcast episode entitled “The Show of Delights.” Our friend told me about it the day it came out as she’d caught it on NPR that morning. Since it seemed like just the thing to counteract all the negativity that was going on then (which was the impetus for the show) I was all set to listen to it that afternoon, but all I could hear was the 2 minute promo; the whole thing wasn’t going to be available for five more hours, by which time I was making dinner or caught up with something else.

So there it sat, waiting, through all of February until the end of this first week of March. I saw it there plenty of times, and clicked on it just to make sure it was still what I thought it was – the promise of something delightful that I could visit sometime in the future when I had 63 minutes to devote to a podcast and was really in need of a boost. Well, today was the day. I was doing a fairly mindless task that required me to sit still at the dining room table for a long period of time and so I had the down time and lord knows I was in need of a boost.

The whole thing was actually quite delightful and I highly recommend it. I hope lots and lots of people take the message to heart that they can do something super radical and seek out and insert delight in their lives just ‘cuz. Not only will being buoyed up by some delight, which, if it happens with enough regularity can turn into joy, be helpful to individual people’s well-being, but it will also totally undermine your efforts to sow the old standbys of fear, hate, and division. You see, most often delight isn’t a solo thing –it’s something we share with each other. It’s the exchange of smiles with a stranger. It’s Laura pointing out the two flickers across the street on the fence and me getting to add a third one that’s up on the light pole. It’s making and sharing a meal that you know someone is going to really enjoy. It’s doing pinky swears with every little girl who wants to see leaders like her.

What my friend didn’t tell me about the podcast when she recommended it was that the fifth and final chapter was all about a woman named Tracy. I would have loved the episode anyway, but this was an especially nice treat.

So this Tracy is Tracy Clayton and she is an African American woman whose current podcast is called Strong Black Lead. The This American Life host for the Delight episode, Bim Adewunmi, interviewed her about what happened when she fell into a very, very dark depression and how she worked her way out. Tracy had started a different podcast called Another Round in 2015 with a good friend of hers and it was a major hit, winning lots of awards and getting tons of buzz. After a while, though, her friend was pulled away by other projects and Tracy found herself going through the motions, faking interest in stuff and pretending to be delighted by the interviews she was doing and the stories she was telling. Eventually she was housebound and on disability.

They didn’t talk about it, but I do wonder if the horror of you contributed to her depression. The timing is right and it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility….

Anyway, the nutshell version of what ended up helping Tracy Clayton move out of her depression includes dancing every night by herself as she found moving her body to music helped her brain feel better, getting therapy, and being silly on the phone every day with her nephew, who would ask her “why are you so cute?” Nice, huh? Every day.

It’s the every day-ness of what she did that resonates with me (along with her name, of course), and you, of all people (well, really, Laura who majorly puts up with this every single day letter writing deal of mine) should get this. We are at letter 1,119 today, by the way. I guess it’s not exactly bringing me delight to engage with you like this every day, but I do still think it helps me keep my balance and allows me to dump what I need to dump so that there’s space for happiness and joy. Thus, it’s totally worth it.

May we feel safe enough to experience delight.
May we be willing to stay open even when our instinct is to shut down.
May we connect with one another in life giving ways.
May we make peace with there being lots of emotions all hanging out together.

Tracy Simpson

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