Daily Ordinary Joy
Daily Ordinary Joy is a fleeting sense of delight that arises in the course of everyday life, sparked by some encounter with the world. For the past 15 years, Paul Ratliff has investigated these types of experiences, and learned about the nature and dynamics of joy. Here is a sampling of stories people have shared along the way. Enjoy!
I love a green door against a uniform backdrop, like the brick wall here. It looks European and maybe even utilitarian. Like a government building. But it's accidentally beautiful. Like they just bought the cheapest paint they could find, without aesthetic in mind, and it ended up being beautiful anyway.
Wasn’t yesterday’s weather the crappiest? The moment I opened my new umbrella, the wind inverted it and rudely tore the piece of poop from my wet fingers. But before i could shake my fist at the sky I spotted this trash bin FILLED with other crappy umbrellas, reminding me to “Keep New York City Clean.” And so I retrieved my dead shelter and dropped it in with the rest. Every trash bin I passed yesterday had dead umbrellas in it and I saw at least 4 other people give up, throw their umbrella away and give in to the rain, the day, the city.
Every now and then the challenges of living make me feel so bound to my fellow man that I don’t even begrudge the challenge. Especially in New York, this wonderful/terrible city that rips the umbrella right out of your hand in the middle of the pouring rain.
Bicycle Wheel Pirouette
I came across this bike near Astor Place in New York City.
I’ve seen mutilated bikes before, usually chained up somewhere too close to a curb when a truck or a cab backs into it. It’s happened to me. And I assume that’s what happened here.
And although I feel bad for the owner of the bike, the bent front wheel made such a beautiful shape, a delicate swoosh, like a ballerina on point.
I guess I like how all the gracelessness - the violence to the bike, the knobbly tires - become this curbside bit of visual poetry.
Ducks On The Stairs
This morning I walked to the coffee shop via the long stairway that runs from our circle court down to Sunset Blvd (actually the staircase itself should be the subject of an entry) and at the bottom of the stairs I found five rubber ducks assembled there as if they’d shown up of their own volition. No one else around. Then two hours later I came back to the stairs to see that the ducks had organized, elected a leader and were having a rally. I love this. The impulse to put ducks on the stair, to inject a little bit of absurdity into someone else’s day, someone you don’t even know - you, random person on the stairs - seems to me to be a small act of cosmic generosity. And then there’s the silent conversation, not just conversation, but a riff, variations on a theme, the duck fugue, or episodic. (I realize I’m assuming that another person, not the original duck-placer, but someone else, came along to evolve the tableau. So in a sense I’m WANTING it to be a conversation.) But this offering in play to strangers, and strangers quietly riffing through an absurd group of objects on the street: that’s what I like. Also that this thing is both intimate and public. Kind of like the staircase itself.
I took this photo when I was moving from Chicago to LA (June 2009) and trying to sell this amp and pre-amp. I really loved the Hafler.
Big piece of hardware, one button, one function. And the button goes ‘click.’ It didn’t look good (or bad). It just had a button, and that button went “click.” Click the button for music.
So this is just a photo about an object that I loved simply, with a simple-minded love. As it turns out, I couldn’t get it sold on Craigslist so I ended up leaving it out in my alley on a clear sunny day. It was gone in 5 minutes. I liked imagining the people who found it, and the perplexed conversation they had about why someone would leave such an expensive piece of kit just lying out in the alley, how desperate and/or stupid that person must have been. But I admit I also felt the sting of how stupid that act made me look, even though there was no connection between the act and the entity I think of as “me,” except in my own brain.
Twilight--my favorite color-- an exquisite hue that can only be experienced - and never exactly captured...
I have to say I really enjoy watching the landscape transform throughout the day, it feels like a horoscope of sorts. I look to the mountains to read the unfolding day ahead of me. It makes me feel connected to the land I'm on- however corny that is...
We spend so much time looking at things up close to us- this is my long-distance constitutional.
Saw this couple on a green swinging bench in Bryant Park on a cold but sunny day. She kept playing with his ear.