Exalting the beautiful
“It is joy by which the labor that will make the life that I want, possible.”–Ross Gay
Unlike my gorgeous daughter who was fluent in Spanish, my language skills are malo, a word that basically means “they suck.”
But I have managed to master one phrase: “No gracias!” I use it many, many times a day as I am offered everything from aprons to sombreros to big buckets of raspberries and green beans.
I also use this phrase anytime my ego acts up. Today’s Course lesson (“I offer only miracles today. For I would have them returned to me”) tells me that if I only offer miracles (meaning I offer love and peace and other truths of who I am) that’s what boomerangs back. It’s classic law of attraction.
The Course offers daily tips for saying “No gracias” to all ridiculous ideas thrown out by the ego. The ego wants us to believe there’s never enough, that we’re never enough. It harps at us constantly. “You need to follow these seven steps. You need to be wary of this person. You need to work harder.”
The Course reminds us none of that is true. The workbook, which gives us 365 reminders, is all about overwhelming the ego with sheer persistence. That’s why I practice it year after year. That’s why I say “No gracias” to anything that doesn’t represent infinity, joy, peace of mind.
Instead I says, “Si Si” to the beautiful.
I just heard a wonderful interview with Ross Gay. He’s a poet, professor and author of The Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. He writes beautifully about how joy is an important calling.
“Joy,” he says, “is the moment when my alienation—not just from other people, but from the whole thing — goes away. If it was a visual thing, like, everything becomes luminous.”
Starting on his 42nd birthday, he promised himself to write a mini-essay each day about something that delighted him, simple things like vegan donuts and arugula and loitering. The thing that surprised him about his year of looking for and writing about delight was how quickly the study of delight made delight more evident.
At first, he thought it was gonna be hard, to find something delightful every day. But he writes that, very quickly, he developed a “delight radar” or a “delight muscle.
“I began to realize how frequently I’m in the presence of sweet little interactions that don’t have to happen, but do—like seeing two people sharing the burden of carrying a shopping bag or a sack of laundry.”
Perhaps my favorite part of the interview was Gay articulating that, in the longing for justice, we must exalt the beautiful and tend to what we love, as much as what we fight.
As he says, “I often think the gap in our speaking about and working for justice is that we forget to advocate for what we love, for what we find beautiful and necessary. We are good at fighting, but imagining, and holding in one’s imagination what is wonderful and to be adored and preserved and exalted is harder for us, it seems.”
So in honor of Ross Gay, I would like to exalt the gardener at the Namaste community here in Ajijic. His name is Augustino. He has been tending to the hundreds of plants, trees and flowers here since they were first planted, way before James Twyman bought the place. He treats each one with love and respect. He talks to them. He notices when one of them needs an extra drink of water or to be moved to a different spot. He is in a deep and caring relationship with his little piece of Mother Earth.
So tell me in the comments section below, “What beautiful thing are you willing to exalt today?”
Pam Grout is the author of 20 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, The Course in Miracles Experiment: A Starter Kit for Rewiring Your Mind (And Therefore Your World).