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!


  1. I sit at a window, which is lovely, but it can be very there are advantages to not having light.

    1. When I work upstairs, I often find myself dreamily staring out the window at the clouds, which is not that productive :-)