“You should get it,” my husband said me.
I shook my head no. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of buying something so impractical at that price.
“I can’t,” I told him. “I just can’t spend that money on it.”
It was a handcrafted artisan bag, crafted out of silk and dark denim with embroidered tropical birds and flowers that flirted with me in a small boutique in my native Puerto Rico years ago. It sounds awful. I swear it’s not. The price tag, however, was another story. It was a couple hundred dollars. I left the store.
Later, my husband went back without my knowing.
“You never get excited about anything,” he explained when he gave me the bag. “I just wanted you to have it since you liked it so much.”
In my hands, the bag felt like pressure, kryptonite. Now, I owned this beautiful piece, and it was my job to keep it beautiful. Me, who looks down half-way through the day and can tell from the stains on my clothes what color pen I was using, what I had for lunch, and what color lipstick whoever I hugged was wearing.
I smiled and thanked my husband profusely and then carried the bag gingerly back to our hotel room.
“Don’t ruin it,” I told myself. Miraculously, I carried it onto the plane (I couldn’t bear the idea of crushing it in my luggage) and off again without anything landing on the silk. Back home, I slide it back into its protective sleeve and then I shelved it. Where it remained for years (except for one brave day in 2007 when I took it out for about an hour and then panicked and returned home with it, relieved that it had survived an hour out of the house).
I am as far from a helicopter parent as it comes, and, yet, I was a helicopter bag owner. I lived in so much fear of what could happen to this bag that nothing happened to it. No one even saw it. It was almost a sketch from theater of the absurd happening live in my own house. And the thing is I know I am not alone.
How many of us have a prized possession that we covet so much that we just can’t bear to enjoy it because enjoying it just might shorten its lifespan? Or because we don’t think we deserve to enjoy it? And, yet, the possession itself says so much about us, brings us so much joy that we’re denying ourselves a bit of pleasure with our resistance to it. Maybe it is our father’s watch, our mother’s wrap, our grandmother’s china. Maybe it’s something we bought for a special occasion and, yet, the occasion special enough for it has never come (perhaps because our own specialness has not occurred to us).
So much of the body image work that I do is about choosing to embrace life and its offering, and, yet, for a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to delight in the bag until I was standing one day in my closet and noticed it, tucked away in its protective sleeve. In that moment, I knew that the bag needed an outing. Not for its sake, but for my own need to delight rather than to deny. Rather than live in fear that I will ruin something, I decided to enjoy what I have. (Ultimately, I liked this strategy so much that Use Something You’ve Been Saving for a Special Occasion became Day 73’s exercise in Beautiful You.) Bringing beauty into our lives – whether it is through nature, fashion, or experience – is life-affirming and life-giving.
Today, I want you to delight in something. It can be a tangible thing you already own– like using something that you have been saving for a special occasion- or it can be by treating yourself to something simple like a bouquet of flowers. Or you can delight in an experience that you normally don’t allow yourself– a soak in the bathtub, reading for pleasure, calling a friend to catch up without watching the clock like a hawk. Take pleasure in something and give yourself the gift of delight.
What do you plan on delighting in? What are your strategies for incorporating delight into your life?