Thursday, October 29, 2020

Joy Project: Magic

This was a fun chapter to read this time of year, because who doesn't want to believe in magic at Halloween? Kids are open to magic any time, but (with the exception of Harry Potter) adults often see it as frivolous. Impractical. We might call it superstition or fantasy and leave the pure wonderment of it to the young ones who still believe in the Tooth Fairy. 

(To be fair, there's a pretty strong cultural component, as magic is seen as very real and very potent in many Caribbean, African, and Asian countries. And Icelanders are pretty forthcoming about their belief in elves and hidden people.)

As Ingrid Fetell Lee points out, for many of us, magic is most accessible in the transformation of the mundane into something joyful and fleeting. Rainbows and fireflies and beautiful patterns of ice on a winter window--courtesy of Jack Frost, no doubt. It might seem difficult to replicate these things in our day-to-day environment--after all, magic is also elusive. For this, Ingrid turns to the play of light off of prisms, mirrors, and anything iridescent. 

Some years ago, I found this doorway divider on clearance at Target:

As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted it hanging on the wall. Made of shell, the squares catch and subtly reflect the light, which often reminds me of a glistening stream. When the window is open, the squares clink against each other like a wind chime. It is right in my line of vision as I come down the stairs, and I never get tired of it. Before reading this chapter, I hadn't thought of it as magical, but now I do.

I hope you have something magical in store for you this weekend. The moon will be full, and that's a good start. Have a safe and healthy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Joy Project: Transcendence

Hello! Before we jump into the next chapter of Joyful, I'll continue the theme of the last post by confessing a weird joyful surprise my husband and I share. I don't remember how it started, but we hide this novelty severed finger for each other to find. 

It might show up in a coat pocket or a drawer, usually some place we don't frequently check. I know, it's completely strange, but it cracks me up every time. 


Moving on to the topic of transcendence. Definitions of the verb transcend include to surpass and to go beyond, but for many of us, it also means to rise above. Accordingly, Ingrid Fetell Lee poses the question, "Why is it that our emotions seem to lie along a vertical axis?" Joyous things feel light and uplifting, somber things feel heavy and low. 

The effect can be pronounced when we are physically raised off the ground, as in a treehouse or a skyscraper, but even just looking up can feel transcendent. Hot air balloons, bubbles, and clouds all have a visual lightness that results in a positive emotional payoff. 

Human beings enjoy looking up. So why don't we do it more often? Sadly, as Ingrid points out, we're often looking down at our phones--to the point that walking into obstacles while doing so has become commonplace. And most homes aren't exactly cathedral-like in their dimensions.

Though my house is a modest size, I am lucky to have a few big windows and a high ceiling on the main floor, which impart a feeling of lightness. But my writing space is in the basement, with no window nearby, and I certainly wouldn't mind bringing some transcendence to that area. 

Ingrid suggests low furniture, tall plants, vertical stripes, and long curtains to accentuate the height of a room. Maybe someday I will get creative like that. But for a quick fix, I did two things. I brought in a tall plant, which I conveniently had at my disposal, and swiveled one light fixture on my floor lamp so it points upward. These tweaks took about two minutes, and I'll let you know if they make a difference. 

I hope October is treating you well! See you next time!
Fingers crossed that my magic plant helps me
transcend mediocre writing!