Andy, age nine, is jumping rope without a rope. “Is that your invisible jump rope?” his brother John asks him. “No,” says Andy, “it’s my happy rope!” Anticipating a promised hayride, Andy jumps his happy rope clear across the apple orchard we are visiting, the very picture of energy and exuberance in all its four-foot, 50-pound, never-take-a-nap glory. Like his brother before him, he devotes the last hour of every evening to racing back and forth across the house. Then he goes to bed, his energy reserves not a whit depleted, with a parting remark of the sort one would like to preserve in a bottle: “We have a wonderful life, don’t we?”
Energy, William Blake said, is eternal delight. But Blake was wrong; energy is a youthful, and therefore transient and corruptible, delight. Eternal delight reveals itself not when we possess energy in natural abundance, but when our energy is depleted and then mysteriously renewed by a source outside ourselves.