My mom coined this phrase several years ago on a trip she’d organized in Tuscany. There were about 8 of us, mostly fellow students from the Laguna College of Art and Design where my mom was pursing her BFA. Although I was not a student, I loved hanging with this brilliant cadre of artists. Overlooking the undulating hills studded with olive trees and vineyards, we were sharing a bottle of Chianti and breathing in the pure air when she famously declared “my delight meter is in the red!”
Mom says it’s her translation of St. Ignatius’ idea of consolation versus desolation. According to Ignatius, we have this kind of spiritual thermometer inside us. It is our task to tune in. If something feels delightful, pure, good and true, it is what he calls “consolation” and we should pursue it. If something feels bad, wrong, impure, oppressive, it is the opposite force: desolation. We should flee the latter while increasingly running after the former.
Last week I spent a day in Laguna Beach where my mom lives and while the baby slept I went for a walk. Later that day the fabulous Alli Tosti came by with her two kids. No question: my delight meter was in the red.