Over the last couple of months I’ve been part of an extended conversation with someone that I met through work. There’s nothing like quite like a great conversation. The kind of conversation that makes you think, leads to epiphanies, and stands out as a highlight of your day. The kind of conversation built on openness, trust, and the desire to connect through words. The kind of conversation that is captured by the traditional Jewish idea of “chevruta”– study partners.
During the most recent chapter of this ongoing conversation (because certain conversations that take place over a period of months or years feel like a single, extended conversation) my dialogue partner pointed out that “delight” can only be experienced in the context of “surprise.” Without a surprise we can feel joy, exuberance, bliss, and any other host of positive emotions, but in order to feel the specific emotion of delight there has to be an element of surprise. Delight is what follows when something unexpected, unpredictable, and good comes ours way.
Which brings me to the idea that there are two basic ways of living in the world. One way is the way of habit, routine, and pattern. We assume that because our days, when viewed as a whole, can look similar to one another, that most of what life throws at us will be mundane and predictable. The second, and in my mind preferable, way of living in the world is to recognize that every moment, every breath, every interaction has the potential to surprise us, to bring us something unexpected and unpredictable, something hitherto unknown. Living this way we increase the likelihood that delight will be one of the emotions we experience most often.