Uncontainable delight

ImageLife gives us circumstances to delight in, if we’re open to them, if we take the time, if we’re willing to stretch our bodies in this unique way. For me, it’s people, or animals – my pets, the gorgeous dog sitting under a restaurant table in a French tourist town – or a beautiful view in nature, the view over the rural valley from my bedroom window, which silences me into hushed awe every time I gaze out across it.

This morning I decide to push into this feeling, which is different to other positive emotions: it is usually accompanied by a sense of wanting more, of not being able to get enough of whatever inspires it. We want to pick up the dog, not just look at him, and hugging him tighter doesn’t assuage that sense of insatiability, either. There’s a tension that goes along with the intensity, and perhaps that’s why I’ve not explored it more before now.

So I bring it up, I replay one of my “delight triggers” and I begin to follow the feeling. It starts near my heart, but as I encourage it to strengthen, I also feel it rising in my body, up through my chest to the left, expanding into my left shoulder causing that shoulder to stretch, as I were flexing a wing; I feel it flit through my collar bone and into my neck and head, lifting me taller as I try to stay with it. And then delight lifts out of me, taking flight, and I am left expanded, yet somewhat confused – am I supposed to follow? And if so, how?

This takes me back to an earlier experience. I was setting off to drive to England, five and a half hours to Le Tunnel, then more hours on the other side. I set myself a question for this time of contemplation: this day I wanted to explore the experience of living a full life. I wanted a deeper understanding of living out full expression, fulfilling our destiny, being our own personal growing edge of the universe – and how that feels.

I expected to be shown a variety of human scenarios: the full life of a novelist, an artist, a dancer, a child playing with toys – that was as far as my human experience could take me; but no, inspiration was more generous.

As I drove along the route du Soleil, near the north coast of France, and without warning, I had a sudden, heart-expanding experience of being a ray of light. Creation delighting in itself. Leaping out of a sun and speeding through the blackness of space, targeted, directed, choosing what magnificent, beautiful aspect of creation to light up, to highlight, to spotlight, so the rest of creation could delight in it as well.

All of these things around us, all the beauty, we can only know them through light – and endless variations of light: the direction of it dictates shadow and contour, and that aspect of beauty; the colour of it determines what colours we see; light filtered through cloud brings usually a lesser quantity and quality of experience, easier to manage, less distracting from the busyness of “normal” life. Because normal life suspends, forgotten, when the full beauty of creation breaks through into our awareness.

I felt, with enormous power, how it would be to illuminate beauty, and bounce from object to object, landscape to landscape; I felt the infinite variety of choice: green hills, desert sands, the endless sparkling facets of the sea; human beings living their rich and varied lives; trees and butterflies; anything, everything. The vast, textured awareness of the whole of creation, lit, consciously, thinkingly, feelingly.

I take delight in so many things, and I can choose to light them up, follow that delight, fly on the wings of light in my imagination – like Einstein following his photon through space – ride it, exhilarated, and bring the illuminated mysteries back to Earth. As uncontainable delight rises through me, I let go of the ground, and I, too, take flight.

Jennifer Manson is the author of Easy – Stories from an effortlessly created life and six novels, all about people discovering and living their dreams.

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