It occurred to me to re-start Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights a couple months ago, this time savoring his modest entries one at a time. It’s my official morning book, the one I try to pick up while my mind is still webbed with night dreams, before the flotsam of the day begins to accrue inside the skull.
I mention this here because today, like many days of late–today it’s the specific grief of losing Ruth Bader Ginsburg–to turn the mind to delights seems itself a kind of act of resistance.
Leaning into that broad and steady light which RBG cast upon our country, what enters me is the conviction that we do, indeed, persist. And to persist, it is essential to find in ourselves the capacity for love, and for holding up the dream.
We’ve been on a long road all along. RBG was there at the forefront for so many decades, her absence rings especially lonely in this extended moment of peril.
We’re going to lose some of the fights ahead. Many of them. But we persist, and we love each other in the best ways we can. And we find nourishment, delight, everywhere we possibly can find it, and we share it—that being, as Gay comments, perhaps the very essence of delight. In the sharing, we amplify joy, and with joy we nourish the spirit.
It’s the Jewish new year, as I write this. In the midst of a tectonic family crisis, one of my nieces writes that she is taking this grievous unraveling as an opportunity to reexamine her own relationships. To interrogate her honesty and integrity.
For me it’s a moment of strange parallel between the local, the familial; and the public sphere, both caught up in a struggle between reality, and a fabrication designed to obscure evil acts. I know we’re not alone, living through this weird multi-leveled shift.
Truth has a way of rising, of erupting through even a thick skin of lies, and this is, if nothing else, a time of reckoning for this nation. Is our democracy salvageable, transformable, to a land where equality and equity are the lived experience of all? I don’t know. But between here, and that dream lies the long road. And what choice do we have, but to walk it with as much heart, as much shared delight, as we can muster? I think this is John Lewis’s message, too, when he tells us to get into good trouble.
I told my niece that while the opening up of family secrets is a painful and even damaging process, it holds out the hope that her children will be freed of a trans-generational habit of papering over our anguish and our sins. The habit of carrying an unreal history out of shame, embarrassment, a sense of not being good enough the way we really are. It’s startling, how much this also describes our national reckoning.
So, I wish each of you a sweeter new year, with the strength to feel our manifold losses, our collective grief, and to honor those we have lost, by getting out of bed each morning, putting one foot in front of the other, and persisting.
It was never a short road. It was never going to be easy, or simple. Still, we have the astonishment of sky arching above this spinning garden we call home; the miracle of language to assert our truths; the delight of buoying one another by sharing each small joy along the way. Apples and honey. The bright light of a diminutive, dogged, brilliant woman. The persistence of thousands of our peers, who lift their voices to assert the dream of a better, a more just, a more loving country.