walk: 20 minutes
note: Reviewing this entry the next morning I’ve found several typos, which I corrected just now. There are probably more that I still can’t see. As my ability to see clearly diminishes, I imagine these typos will increase.
COVID update: RJP’s doing fine, felt like her usual cold. She’s been in her room since Wednesday night, only leaving to go to the bathroom or eat. So far, Scott and I are okay. He tested today: negative. Neither of us are too anxious.
update from the next morning: Even though she feels fine, RJP is still testing positive. It was the same for FWA when he had it in September. He thought he had a cold. Finally tested near the end of it. Felt fine, tested positive for 10 days.
Scott and I took Delia the dog for a quick walk around the neighborhood. Warmer, sunny, slushy sidewalks. Fresh air! He talked about video games, I talked about this log and the latest episode of ‘You’re Wrong About.” The only memorable thing about the walk: the field at Howe School was covered in snow — not smooth or flat but filled with mini mounds from hundreds of boots kicking and stomping, and hundreds of bodies rolling around in it during recess last week.
bike: 14 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.2 miles
Too dark to run outside in the later afternoon, so I went to the basement. Watched Miss Space Cadet on YouTube while biking, listened to Apple’s 80s “Fitness” playlist on the treadmill — “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Material Girl,” “Super Freak,” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.” I need to put together a running playlist again. Didn’t think about much while I ran. As always, it felt good to move.
Inciting Joy: Day One, The First Incitement
This afternoon I started Ross Gay’s wonderful book, Inciting Joy. I’m going to try and read an incitement (there are nine) this month. Here are some notes and thoughts for the first incitement:
To define joy, he begins by saying what it’s not: it’s not sparking joy or capitalist-joy-as-acquiring-better-stuff-or-doing-big-things. It’s not the happy place where you go to be safe or comfortable — a sanctuary protected with a heavy lock, keeping out all the bad stuff: heartbreak, sadness, worry. It’s not unserious or frivolous to talk about (or experience), even as we are made to think it is, and it’s not separate from pain and suffering:
But what happens if joy is not separate from pain? What if joy and pain are fundamentally tangled up with one another? Or even more to the point, what if joy is not only entangled with pain, or suffering, or sorrow, but is also what emerges from how we care for each other through those things? What if joy, instead of refuge or relief from heartbreak, is what effloresces from us as we help each other carry our heartbreaks?
effloresces = blossoms
He suggests that instead of avoiding/ignoring/quarantining sorrow that we invite it in, and invite others in too so they can meet our sorrow, and we can meet theirs. Then he offers a vivid description of what that party might look like, all of us bringing a dish for a potluck, along with our sorrow, breaking bread together (and some furniture, I guess):
…and the thud skips the record back to the beginning of Sly Stone’s “Family Affair” and the dancing, which has been intermittent, just blasts off, all of us and our sorrows, sweaty, stomping and shaking, tearing it up, the pictures falling off the walls, the books from the shelves, some logs ablaze even spilling from the stove, riotous this care, this carrying, this incitement, this joy.
At the end of the chapter, he describes the goal of his book: to investigate what stuff we think/do/believe that incites joy and to wonder what joy might incite. He has a hunch — it might incite solidarity, which incites more joy, and then more solidarity — not over the same sorrows but over the shared experience of sorrow. This sharing of sorrow might lead us to discover what we do or might love together, which might help us survive.
I deeply appreciate this idea of joy as connected to suffering and that, when shared and cared for, might lead to love. Did that last sentence make sense? I’m excited to read the rest of these incitements. I think I might add my own incitement: gray days. Or, I might develop my own idea of gray joy?
Gay’s vision of a raucous party, overflowing with people meeting each others’ sorrows, seems a bit overwhelming to me. I’m not sure I would find joy in caring and developing solidarity in such a big, messy crowd. But, there are others ways, I think, in which we can invite sorrow in too. Gay’s discussion reminded me of another psalm poem I read by Julia B. Levine, especially her last lines:
Psalm with Wren in Daylight Saving Time/ Julia B. Levine
Late afternoon, I chop onions by feel,
listening to crows cry to each other across the ridge.
Gone now, white recipe card on the white floor,
green sea glass found on a Humboldt beach.
But this hour I have been given back, carried out
of gorse, red flash of maples, finches in our cedar.
Meaning, today I returned for the first time
to the moment I understood I was going blind.
Months I hid from myself that the V of geese
flying over the valley extinguished too soon into fog,
a darkness fine as sugar sifted over the chard, the roses.
Now I hear the soft tick of a bird landing on the counter.
Feel her gaze turn away from mine. When she hops
table to chair to floor, I open all the windows and doors.
Sometimes we must drag our grief out of the river
and put our mouth on it. And then a loosening comes.
One morning I rose and sat outside on my lawn
under budded glory vines. There is no hurry, I say
to the stirrings of one so small it has to be a wren.
Once I let the missing in, there was possibility.
There was a heavy rain in sun—every blade of grass
blurred, and for a moment after, only shine.
Let that missing in! Open those doors and windows! Drag the grief out of the river! I imagine this opening up to grief as more than a solitary practice. It’s an opening up to and connecting with the world.