Filling Life With The Simplest Delights

In an attempt to not sound like every reader or writer that always loves to recommend every book that they think changed them or brought them joy, though I am also very guilty of this issue, Ross Gay’s Book of Delights is a wonderful read for those looking to connect the smallest parts of one’s day to happy outlooks. Within the book can be found many different chapters that consist of personal delights in life, one of those chapters being “Public Lying Down.” This chapter discusses exactly what you think it would, lying down in public places, and though this may not seem like a real delight at first glance, Gay delves deeper into how this moment of peace or even deviance is something that a lot of people can understand or relate to. He writes how sometimes lying down in public can be associated with “an inappropriate relationship to the social codes that, depending on how one relates to that relationship, might be called crazy,” though this tends to only apply in certain spaces due to how acceptable society views this behavior.

For instance, going to a park or green space one would probably not think twice about people laying down on the grass enjoying the sun or the moment of peace they are granted. However, if you see someone laying down on the side of the road or the concrete, you may instead look in confusion or curiosity as to why the person may be there in the first place. The perception of these moments comes from predetermined ways of thinking that we as a society have created in our culture. In some moments the slowing down of our day can result in relaxation in places that we may have not thought about previously, as he also mentions that he too has taken part in a sidewalk nap where he “reclined next to some fountain or other, the water trickling me into a heavenly sleep.”

The breaking of societal biases can sometimes result in momentary happiness if we would just give it the chance.

2 Responses to Filling Life With The Simplest Delights

  1. Adam D January 26, 2023 at 7:46 pm #

    Taylor—your last sentence really resonates with me. Beyond getting to the nub of what makes this essay so interesting (though I don’t want to gloss over the fact that you manage to do so quite effectively), this short sentence also expresses an insight that is both earnest and actionable. Why don’t we break social norms more often, especially if the only consequence would be making us a little bit happier? (I’m double-majoring in sociology, so you’ve really touched on something fascinating for me.) In any case, I quite enjoyed this post, and I suspect I’ll be thinking about it for quite some time.

  2. Prof VZ January 29, 2023 at 6:54 pm #

    I love how this chapter on lying down in public echoes the ones he writes on inefficiency and other forms of delay: doing things that force the world into a different pattern, a different way of being. It shows how the way we navigate our days, the way we walk around, is a kind of writing against the way things are, envisioning new possibilities. The aesthetics of everyday life!

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