Choosing Delight

I love the same part of every musical I’ve seen on the stage.

Even if I don’t know the show or the music or the actors, I can tell you here and now what my favorite part will be.

It’s two parts, actually: Intermission and the first 10, maybe 15 minutes after the show’s over.

Because this is when the kids in the audience dismount from their booster seats or folded up coats. And start to sing out whatever words they remember to whatever melodies they remember. Usually, they dance, too. Twisting. Bouncing. Flapping and flinging their arms around.

(It’s worth noting that I – and probably the rest of the 10-and-older crowd – stay put in my seat, reading the playbill and doing something practical, like sucking a cough drop.)

And while the hearts of these kids are little in size, they are big in what you might call the freedom to delight in things. Which is something that can be in short supply in the heart of your average adult.

It’s a freedom we often trade in for restraint and pragmatism and fear of being judged and acting-our-age-for-heaven’s-sake.

But as the poet Jack Gilbert would say, “We must risk delight.” Which I think has something to do with choosing to live a life of wonder over a life of self-consciousness.

And so when I look up from the playbill during intermission or at the end of the show, I’m reminded: Oh, yes. Right. Delight is here. If we choose it.

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