After the Parkinson’s diagnosis, I often lay in bed watching the clock tick past 2:00 am, 3:00 am, 4:00 am, contemplating the cruelty of my life sentence. The disease was targeting my right side, which I’d depended on for years to compensate for the stroke that had weakened the left. I was running out of sides.
One morning, I called my friend, Cathy, who was battling her second round of cancer treatments. I asked her how she did it, got through the nights. She said that though there were times that flossing before turning in seemed an exercise in optimism, she did do one thing before she fell asleep. Cathy would close her eyes and recall three special moments from the day. Simple pleasures that made her pause and appreciate. The taste of a blueberry. The way her dog leapt with a twist to catch the Frisbee. It was a kind of Gratitude Game she played.
In my RYT200 yoga teacher training, there was discussion of keeping a Gratitude Journal. Each night before bed, like Cathy, we were to think of three things throughout the day that made us stop and notice. I knew I’d fail at keeping a journal – by the time I go to bed, not only am I ready to drop, but the Sinamet has worn off and my handwriting is cramped and illegible. But, with Cathy’s way, I could crawl under the covers and let myself remember that leaf that I saw break from the branch and float all the way to the ground, the way everyone at the ice cream stand was smiling, the sound of the dishwasher at night, humming and cleaning and making everything seem in order.
In thought or on the page, listing three aaaah moments from the day keeps me appreciative of all that is not cruel. The bonus for playing the Gratitude Game is that I find myself becoming more aware, more mindful, present to the many moments throughout the day. I simply wait and witness them as they appear. The first sip of tea in the morning. Watching the dog crawl out of her bed and stretch first in down dog, then up dog. Birdsong on an early June morning. The smell of peppers and onions sautéing.
Sometimes it’s difficult to choose only three for my list at night.