The quiet, uninterrupted calm of an early morning, with lamp light or candle as the only breaking of the darkness. There’s a coolness, a restfulness there that isn’t the same at other times, even if all other things are equal.
Music (not lyrical music, though that has its place – just not here). The kind like jazz or smooth, classical music that takes you on a journey, that tells a story, that paints pictures and grabs emotions, and sometimes just adds a theme to whatever setting you find yourself. That’s almost as soothing as the quiet.
A late afternoon of reading, preceded by work and activity and potentially a good bit of exercise, is a wonderful thing. I believe most work should be done in the hours between 9 and 3, when activity levels are highest. The fore and aft times should be delegated to restful activities, such as reading, writing, drinking coffee or alcohol, taking slow walks, having quiet (and sometimes loud) conversations with friends, listening to music, and remembering to relinquish the facade of control we have over our own lives. Of course, those activities can differ if your “work” consists of one of the things I just listed.
More and more I’ve begun to realize that throughout the years I’ve been heavily influenced by what I thought society or immediate culture or even friends or family thought best or most desirable for me; that I was attempting to live up to expectations not set by me, or most importantly not by God. Even now I still find the nagging temptation to not disappoint or let anyone down, even in the smallest details of life, like what I’m spending money on, what I’m eating, how I’m taking care of my house, what I’m doing as a profession at age 25, what my plans are before I turn 30, and so on.
That is a crippling way to live, and certainly not one that’s full of life and liberty.
Reading works from C.S. Lewis and Eugene Peterson, and spending time with certain friends (whom if I named you would most likely not recognize anyway, so I’ll leave them out) has given me a fresh taste of desires deep inside me that I’ve either labeled “bad” or I’ve just hid because they didn’t fit the mold of “desirable” or “good” for the greater culture or society or family/friend expectations.
Now more than ever I feel I’m being opened to the truth that those desires, those things that make me feel alive, that I actually enjoy and prefer and love, are actually what’s “desirable” and “good” for me, and ultimately what will create a lasting joy to life that will spill over to others and in effect give them the same liberty to explore what has been placed within them.
As I wrote previously, priorities and what we value can either be chosen by us, based on the desires of our hearts and what matters to us, or they will be chosen for us and placed on us like heavy burdens. Delight is essential to a life full of joy and meaning. Sometimes slowing down long enough, even just to think about that word delight, and what it means to us, may help us understand more of what could make our lives more full and meaningful.
You can’t give what you don’t have.