A friend of mine, from a time long ago, has told me that she is on a personal quest to “delight more in life.” An admirable mission, at the very least, but for many of us, an uphill battle. You could use up a lot of energy on a task like that. A lot of questions leap immediately to mind, the first, at least the one most immediately leaping around in my head, is the use of the word “delight”. We’re not talking simple enjoyment here, we’re talking enjoyment with frosting and maybe some jimmies. Delight is a word which can be safely used only by someone who is careful with syntax, as in the ability to be very specific, knowing when that word, and only that word, will do. No others need apply. It is about the arrangement and specific meaning of words as influenced by those around them.
More than a few years ago, I had an assistant who not only practiced the ancient wizardry of shorthand, but whom I could trust to take my dictation, regardless of mood and demeanor of the moment, and turn it into legitimate prose. As particular as I am about wordcraft in communications, that’s saying something. I admit that there were times when her specific (and sometimes extreme) words were like fingernails on a chalkboard. Did I sometimes feel the exactness was contrived? Perhaps. There were probably times when my old boss was annoyed when I took his handwritten memos and corrected the spelling, usage and general mutilation of the language (in red) and sent them back to him. So, yes, I admit to occasionally making use of language to be a pain in the butt.
But, back to my friend’s quest. I delight in her goodness, and in her impulse not only to improve herself, her life and the lives of those around her, but to make it a specific goal, which is, as all strivers know, the only path to progress. After all, you can’t hit a target you don’t have. “Delight” is a word that might scare people, though. I could be threatened just by the fact that someone had the courage to be so sure of themselves to use a word that is so specific, and in that way, unusual. That person though, can look in the mirror and see a person of resolve and refined intent. If I heard the word in a disengaged conversation in a crowded room, it would probably snap my head around. I would want to know who was willing to put themselves out there in that way.
Overkill? I think not. It tells me that someone, and this person in particular, has made a conscious decision to not only find more joy in their own life, but to make her zest available to others, while not jamming it down their throats. My goal in life is usually just to put the people around me at ease. To handle their anxieties and discomforts while treating our differences in a civil way, without being burdensome or judgemental. My personal delight is in putting friends at ease, doing things that might be unexpected or even better, make them wonder what I am up to. Sadly I do not always succeed. For my friend, her personal delight in life will, I know, spill over and affect everyone she touches. It ain’t wrong, it’s just different.