Dances of Delight

2007 sunsets-72I almost always have one song or another running through my head. Often it’s something silly and annoying, like Roger Miller’s “England Swings Like a Pendulum Do” or “Waltzing with Bears,” which was apparently written by Dr. Seuss. He should’ve known better.

But for the last few days, as spring has sprung in the North Country of upstate New York, the song in my head has been “When I’m Gone,” by folksinger Phil Ochs. Not a silly or annoying song at all, but one that sets forth a philosophy I wish I could live up to. (You can hear the song by going to the link. I admit I almost never click on links in blogs but I think you’ll really like the song!)

In the song, Ochs lists the things he won’t be able to do anymore “when I’m gone” and concludes, “So, I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.” He itemizes the things we take for granted and put off and say we want to do, but shy away from, and reminds us that our time here is not limitless.

I’ve always loved and been moved by this song but it’s in my head right now because the last few days have seemed so perfect to me. These days have made me think constantly of a phrase Ochs uses in the song–“dances of delight.”

I’ve been in the sunshine, raking last fall’s leftover leaves, and finding tender-green new growth beneath. I can recognize that these will be peonies and those will be heuchera, when they’ve had a few weeks to grow.

I’ve been on my knees weeding, feeling muscles glow and tell me that no, I did not stay fit over the winter, but I can be soon.

On my whim, I’ve moved from yard work to old linens, and spent time reclaiming them from years of neglect in storage, returning them to beauty, and finding new homes for them.

When the spirit moves, I’ve wandered to my weaving, to wind warp for a gift and to help my husband figure out a new-to-us loom where he’ll make something beautiful out of ordinary string.

I‘ve stopped by here and visited with you. I’ve shared a meal with dear friends. I’ve watched my cats nap in the sunshine and dive headfirst into piles of leaves, older cats made young again by springtime. I’ve heard geese honk on a lake of lapping water (not ice!), watched the weeping willows turn green-gold as they bud, and smelled the sun on pine needles.

These days are much of a muchness. Nothing wild or crazy or exotic or thrilling.

But, these are my dances of delight. Full of anticipation and promise, hard work, productive and varied, but unpressured and mellow.

I’m very aware that this won’t last forever. Things change. Complications arise. Nothing gold can stay. But, right now, it all seems so delightful.

I won’t be able to dance these delights when I’m gone, so I guess I better do it while I’m here. What delights are you dancing?


Phil Ochs, When I’m Gone, 1966 lyrics

There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone
And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone
And you won’t find me singin’ on this song when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t feel the flowing of the time when I’m gone
All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I’m gone
My pen won’t pour out a lyric line when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t breathe the bracing air when I’m gone
And I can’t even worry ’bout my cares when I’m gone
Won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t be running from the rain when I’m gone
And I can’t even suffer from the pain when I’m gone
Can’t say who’s to praise and who’s to blame when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

Won’t see the golden of the sun when I’m gone
And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I’m gone
Can’t be singing louder than the guns when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

All my days won’t be dances of delight when I’m gone
And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I’m gone
Can’t add my name into the fight while I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone
And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone
Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.

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32 thoughts on “Dances of Delight

  1. Lovely Kerry!

    I try very hard to live in the moment and not wander to far forward, which is really hard. Appreciate today as it is all you know, make the most of it, see the beauty. I believe you just did from what you have recorded in your post!

  2. Your honesty and humor are refreshing Beautifully said. I think writers and artists and gardeners, too see the world around them with a keen eye and an appreciation for the daily delights

    My daily delight this week includes having our close to feral cat sit on my lap for the first time in four years and watching my 14 year old son take charge.

    I will click on that link but not till the rest of the house is awake.

    • Your patience, to tame a feral cat and get him to trust you, is amazing! I bet you hardly breathed while he was on your lap! It sounds like things are pretty delightful around your house, too!

  3. Your words made me smile with delight as you review your days – as did the song, which I had not heard before. Imagine! In my world someone will say something, toss out a thought, a question or a comment and ZING – there’s a song in my head that will stay there maybe all day…… sometimes they are good songs, sometimes not so great too. No matter, it’s good to have music in your head rather than negative thoughts don’t you think! I was walking around the park with Siddy yesterday morning musing on the most glorious of early winter days, watching a couple of teenagers walk through with their heads down looking at their phones – then silently thanking them because they made me aware it was good to be me!

    • Yes! We need to welcome anything that makes us aware of how good our lives are! The music in my head is non-stop, mostly old folk music from the ’60s, full of sort of happy, if shallow, philosophy. As you say, it crowds out the negative thoughts!

  4. I love this dance of delight. I also think that when one dances to the beautiful things in life, takes time to smell roses, works hard and feels ,sees the reward of that labor,it’s a memory that will always dance in ones mind. I really do feel sorry for people who do nothing worth while in life.

    • I agree, and the more we stop and really take note of the positive, delightful things we have, the more likely we are to bring additional happiness in!

  5. I love this post. I too, have songs in my head much of the time, brought on by any number of things. It was so nice to hear the rhythm of your days and discovery of the season’s turning and incipient life under the leaves. The world is so beautiful if we notice. I once joked with a friend “how can we stand all this beauty?” I’m grateful that I notice it and take joy in it–and grateful to know others who do as well.

    • Thanks, Lisa. As I was writing about what made me happy, it seemed so . . . simple and unexciting. But maybe that’s a good stage of life to be in, when we recognize that what we have is more than enough.

    • Mine, too! They won’t be blooming for another month but I know they’re there and made it through the winter. The anticipation will carry me along!

  6. Beautiful post. My current dance of delight involves enjoying every day of spring…my favorite season. I monitor the changes in the buds and leaves and perennials every day. I welcome the return of the catbird and hummingbird. And I’m also doing a dance of delight because my kitty, Graycie, is healthy. I had a scare a few days ago…she was vomiting and in pain. The vet thought it might be pancreatitis brought on by diabetes. But after a night in the hospital and lots of tests they determined she is not diabetic. It might have been a mild case of pancreatitis but they’re not sure. She is fine now…back to her old self and I’m dancing with delight.

    • I’m so glad Gracie is okay! Your pet being healthy is an excellent reason to dance in delight! We have a diabetic cat and the management of it is much less scary than I expected but I do worry whenever she seems the least bit off. Enjoy every moment of spring, Susan–heavens knows, we waited long enough for it!

  7. I’m enjoying the music while reading and commenting.
    Thank you for introducing me to this song, and for sharing your dances of delight. It is the simple pleasures of hard work with pleasing results; sights and sounds; visits with friends; and time with things that we love.
    Lovely, lovely post

  8. Those lyrics are so beautiful! It’s so worth to be reminded to enjoy indulging in the nice things in life whilst they’re still around. I forget to do that sometimes amongst the business of life. Weaving and eating with friends and sorting sounds like a lovely way to spend your days xx

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