I suspect it is simply a feature of being an adult, what I will call being grown, or a grown person, to have endured some variety of thorough emotional turmoil, to have made your way to the brink, and, if you’re lucky, to have stepped back from it–if not permanently, then for some time, or time to time. Then it is, too, a kind of grownness by which I see three squares of light on my wall, the shadow of a tree trembling in two of them, and hear the train going by and feel no panic or despair, feel no sense of condemnation or doom or horrible alignment, but simply observe the signs–light and song–for what they are–light and song. And, knowing what I have felt before, and might feel again, feel a sense of relief, which is cousin to, or rather, water to, delight.
Excerpted from The Book of Delights (Algonquin Books, 2019).
Ross Gay’s collection of essays, The Book of Delights, was released by Algonquin Books in 2019. Ross is also the co-author of two chapbooks; founding editor of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’; editor with Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press; founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard; and collaborator on The Tenderness Project. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University.