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QUINTESSENCE

Delight in the world

“But something in me has diminished.
A door the fates once opened
has been nailed closed and plastered over.
The white dust covers my hands.”
- “Patched Carpet,” Jane Hirschfield, Given Sugar, Given Salt, 2001

This morning I stand with my cup of Earl Grey tea in front of the window beside the bored dog. The squirrels he chases from the yard are high in the trees. The birds, the brown wrens, red-breasted sparrows, and yellow finches have sought shelter on the woody branches under the broad leaves of the rhododendrons. Flower petals for umbrellas. Rain is pooling on the patio, dripping from the eaves. The skies are pouring rain, the earth lush with a fierce green, a frenzy of spring energy pushing toward the low gray skies.

I’ve taken an orange from the fruit bowl. In my deeply empty mood, the intense color has caught my eye, although I was not truly hungry. I cut into the skin with my thumbnail, slip my finger under the skin and pull a quarter of the peel away from the fruit. A spray of citrus oil springs from the fruit, catches my chin, my eye. I blink, stung. The intense aromatic bite of citrus fills my nostrils as I dig for the white thready inner skin, pulling the fruit apart with my thumbs. I put a slice of the orange on my tongue and bit it in half. Suddenly my mouth is having a party! Summer barbecues, French vineyards, air shows and Florida beaches. I look in wonder at the small orange in my hand in unexpected joy. How could this fruit be so complete an experience as to transform this wet day, the unimportant moment, and me within it? I am abruptly perfectly happy, the juice of the orange on my chin, full of the taste, the color, the smell, even the texture of this delight.

I begin here. I will find joy, in itself without boundaries, wherever I can in this life I lead. See if I can open the experience to encompass my whole being. Finding joy might be one small step, so plain and ordinary. Delight in the world, here in my hand.

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