Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with throwing open the cabinet of curiosities and wondrous things I call my brain and leading you on a tour of what actually resides in there – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
L is for…
laetificate – (obscure) to cheer, make happy, gladden
Humans are complex, nuanced creatures capable of a wide range of emotional states, but today I want to talk about the delightful state of a bright, cheerful mood. In my mind it’s worthy to celebrate such a state whenever we come across it; but even more important I think we should dedicate ourselves to achieving it as often as possible. In truth, laughter in particular, but cheeriness in general, re-sets our energy, and there’s always room for that isn’t there?
I’m encouraged and inspired by Rumi’s invitation:
“Let us drink the holy wine of happiness.”
Just as we have choices about how we’ll respond to everything, I believe we can do a lot to cultivate cheerfulness. This can be a tricky topic to talk about though, because if you’re not feeling cheerful it can be easy to dismiss any attempts to achieve it as Pollyanna-ish.
One of the things I often say is I like to keep my feet on the joy trail. But I think it’s important to be clear – my life is not any more magical than anyone else’s. I have my share of challenges, my share of hard, my share of sadness. I’ve known the darkness of depression deeply and intimately. I’m ordinary.
But I also know that life is easier and more enjoyable when we can smile and laugh, and especially when we can hold ourselves in enough love to be able to laugh at ourselves. That’s the best! Life is many things, but it most definitely at times is absurd. What better time to laugh? Life is filled with treasures and blessings and moments of great great joy. We can meet those moments consciously with cheer, and in doing so invite more of the same in.
There’s a charming and insightful little book by J. Ruth Gendler entitled The Book of Qualities. It’s a whimsical characterization of various emotional qualities ranging from courage to complacency, jealousy to anxiety – about 75 different ones. She presents the qualities as characters, offering a brief less-than-a-page description. One of the things she says about joy that I find particularly valuable is:
“Although Joy is spontaneous, she is immensely patient. She does not need to rush. She knows that there are obstacles on every path and that every moment is the perfect moment. She is not concerned with success or failure or how to make things permanent.”
If you can feel into that, I think you can get a sense of what I’m trying to encourage. It’s sort of holding loosely, being truly present in the moment, and staying open to all appearances of delight that you can whole-heartedly welcome. Isn’t that delicious?
Seeing as how we’re all unique, we’ll of course have differing experiences about what things laetificate us. But in the spirit of sharing, and hopefully encouraging, here are a number of things that do it for me.
- Ever have a day of doubting yourself? Feeling a bit smaller than you think you should, as though your patina of awesomeness was a bit tarnished? Forgot what makes you so darn special? No worries. You just need to pay a visit to the Random Superhero Generator. Here’s what it said about me:
“Deborah Weber possesses the power to spin like a whirlwind. She also has the power to take control of bees and she has learned to make duplicates of herself. Deborah Weber has mastered the ability to deflect lasers and she has been known to create wood out of thin air. She developed the talent to steal the skills of her rivals and use it against them. Unfortunately, Deborah Weber endures the burden of being completely incapable of jumping.”
Pretty impressive isn’t it? And the fact that I can collaborate with my Bee friends – now that’s downright amazing! I’m definitely feeling more cheerful now.
- I often turn to children’s books to cheer me,
One of my absolute favorites is Larry and Friends, written by Nat Jasper and illustrated by Carla Torres. It’s about Larry the American dog, and all his multi-national, multi-cultural friends who come by to celebrate his birthday. Each character has a little back story, like Rosita the Mexican Coyote, who “survive(d) the tough trip from Mexico guided by some chicken people that dared called themselves coyotes. She’s now the best luchadora in New York.” There’s Laila the Iranian Cat, and Sumita the Indian Elephant who was left behind by a traveling circus, but didn’t cry because she knew “life sometimes takes mysterious roads to land you in the right place at the right moment;” and so many other wonderful friends. This is such a delightful book about immigration, diversity, friendship and acceptance.
- As you’ve no doubt guessed, I love words and I definitely love word play.
I genuinely love John Sacelli’s AngeLynx. It’s a deck of 52 cards exploring the “Angelish” language – and I think it’s a brilliant exposition of alternate/expanded/slightly twisted meanings of various words and concepts. It’s meant to be used a divination deck and I find it a compelling jumping off point for shifting one’s perspective. The cards can be used in any favorite spread or simply pulled as a single card to be pondered. But the booklet that comes with the deck discusses readings as “re-dings; or a bell went off in my head and now I hear it again.” See – isn’t that wonderful? There are 52 cards related to 52 strengths (not weaks) of the year; and each offers alternate ways to think about a particular word. Here’s an example:
” KNOWLEDGE – KNOW LEDGE. Know your leading edge. Don’t miss your life’s adventure by staying too far from the risk; but don’t fall over the edge either.”
I really think that’s brilliant. And now I can’t stop thinking about knowledge in those terms. What’s the point of knowledge if it doesn’t move you forward on your own path?
- I have a collection of vintage Japanese anthropomorphic vegetable salt and pepper shakers. Apparently, for some reason I find highly veggies amusing and just looking at my collection cheers me. It’s true I may have wandered into my kitchen hunting down a piece of cheer-inducing chocolate, but stopping by and seeing these little Hankurei turnips turns up the corners of my mouth.
So there you have it. We all need things in our lives that laetificate us, bringing cheer and gladdening our hearts. What about you? What cheers you? Do tell – you know I love to hear.