The Pleasant Practice of Finding Joy
I’m in a book club. I’ve mentioned this lovely group of former co-workers who I join throughout the year to discuss books. We normally discuss books that are related to race in America as we are a diverse group, in age, race, marital status, children or none.
I love meeting with these women and sharing thoughts on such things, which turns out to be enlightening for all parties. It’s a safe haven, with excellent conversation and amazing treats and goodies to eat. The hugs and laughter is warm and genuine. It’s a respite.
But in reading these types of books, whether fiction or non fiction, I found as a black woman, I was greatly fatigued. I enjoy reading for fun, but dissecting Baldwin and DuBois or even looking at fictitious works by black authors, and the natural, normal pain of generational trauma that shows up in the subtle and overt, it just wore me out.
So, this summer, we are taking a break. I suggested that we find fun books to read or something from the arts, and we share that with one another.
I’m on a hunt for joyous things. I’m quite interested in pleasure. Kicking that off, I watched Julie Dash’s Tour de Force and the rumored inspiration for Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” “Daughters of the Dust.”
There was something very beautiful about seeing black women, young and old always wearing white and living lives of simplicity, isolated on an island where they could trace their ancestry back to the Africans who landed on those shores in chains.
Living on that island without whatever modern luxuries of the 1920s were, they worked hard to raise families and feed the entire community, everyone shared, everyone did their part, everyone respected the elders and lavished love on the children.
Even among the young women, there was an air of innocence still, and they played and danced and ran along the beach wild-eyed and free. Even the cousins who may have gone off to the mainland and tease them for being country and isolated and naive, could not deny the ties that brought them back home, feeling familiar, feeling safe and loved, eating familiar foods.
Watching that film, and after reading so many books fiction and non fiction, while struggle is a large part of life, carving out those moments of joy seem all the more important.
I think of how I feel when I hear a great song, or watch a beautiful play or see gifted dancers dance.
I think of what my favorite foods taste like, crab legs on a summer day sitting on a large deck facing the water in Annapolis, or floating on my back in clear waters in the Caribbean.
I think of laying in my bed with the one I love and turning over to kiss him good morning and see he’s already awake and looking happy and serene and I’m the reason.
So, this summer, the idea of joy and pleasure come to mind. What people, places and things make me feel good when the working day is done?
Where can I find moments of joy during my work day and after? I don’t have to wait until the weekend.
Am I making time for pleasurable moments? Can I walk slower from lunch? Why am I rushing all of the time?
Do my sheets smell and feel good when I get in my bed at night?
Did I drive a different way home? Did I use fresh groceries to make my meal?
Did I have a good conversation with someone I love or haven’t spoken to in a while?
Have I let go of some dumb shit from the past that has nothing to do with the present?
I’ve asked my friends on Facebook to share with me things that bring them joy and if it is a book, or recipe or whatever, I’d like to experience that. It can be music, a YouTube video, a restaurant recommendation. Whatever brings a feeling of joy and comfort, I’m interested.