Today has been a hard day, so far. Should I tell you why? Share my individual troubles, describe the struggles, inner and outer—and ask for empathy and understanding and maybe even commiseration?
Nah, not today.
Today I’m going to do the counter-intuitive and count blessings instead.
The “experts” (including neurobiologists and wise grandmas) tell us to do that. Our brains (and sometimes spirits) are primed to notice the negative, the possibly harmful or painful, the untrustworthy. Often my brain urges me to linger on what’s wrong in my world and THE world. And there’s plenty of it to go around, right? Gas and food prices, mutating viruses and insane dictators, etc.
Yet I say NAY, Negativity Bias. I do not submit.
I mean; I see you, negative thing and accompanying kaleidoscope of emotions. I can name you. I will acknowledge you as needed. But I won’t dwell too long in that dark space. Instead, onto the blessings we will go—whether they are big and small, elusive or ordinary, enormous or as tiny and ephemeral as dust motes.
I will simply look around and notice:
…I am grateful for the curiosity of a new day. The slant of light on the floorboards, the smell of coffee, the dog’s joy in being fed.
…I am grateful for this house. The slightly crooked, old-world charm of it; its lively and demanding imperfections. I am grateful for all the good and bad memories visible or encoded in the wash of bright paint, an unfinished shelf, the cozy fireplace with mural above and the one brick loose below; and the photos, some lovely beyond measure, all remembered, some with polished silver frames, and one bright green one that needs gluing. The face of my grown child not grown and then grown some and grown more. The piano as epicenter. The cats looking out the window. Every day, searching for birds they can’t catch.
…I am grateful for the people most of all. The ones here and not here. The most precious ones: my family, which forms the line from past to present to future. My mother’s unexpected smile when she understands a joke despite her dementia. All beloved faces, in their different phases of the moon.
…I am grateful for my work, too. The fascinating, creative, and even the mundane of it teaches us to savor the satisfying. I can’t buy this, but grateful to do that. I am most grateful for food and the roof over our heads and the hammock under the front tree; and the laughter that sometimes bubbles and froths, refashioning all it touches.
Oh, and health. I am so grateful for the deep breaths, the cool flushed cheeks on star-filled evenings and my beating heart when I dance. I am grateful for the length and movement of my body; of the bodies I know so well and the bodies of children I don’t know running and playing.
I am grateful for Spring, the pregnant mama-birdie eating the cat food on the porch, the parrots guffawing overhead, and the perfumed gentle flame of bursting blossoms.
I am grateful for writing and reading and art, and for the slovenly joy of eating guacamole while binging on series. And for the bittersweet, irritating, and all-consuming challenge of cleaning out our garage. I am grateful for everything around me—and especially hope on this one particular day.