On Monday night I came home from work feeling a little more alive. It can take a surprising slap of a disaster to do that. On the sidewalk, I looked into people’s faces. When the D train traveled over the Manhattan Bridge, I looked up from my reading and out the window––at the piers stretching out into the mirrored surface of the water, the tall buildings reflecting that golden hour of the evening. When I got home, I kissed Sebastian in the doorway a little longer and moved through a yoga class as my bedroom went from warmly lit by that orange-red sun to dark. Look up, the teacher said time and again, in tree pose, in crescent. There’s an optimism there.
Did you know we are genetically wired to remember negative moments more than good? It’s our DNA’s way of keeping us alive. We’ll remember the bitter snap of winter, the terrifying snarl of a wild animal. We have to work hard against this predisposition, which is why everyone from Buddhists to psychologists suggest we keep a gratitude journal. My blog posts have felt a little heavy to me lately, and I wanted to counter that by listing what was right. In light of recent news, looking for the good took on a new weight.
Today I am 31. I know! It sounds like such a grown-up age, one that comes with a mortgage and a mid-life crisis not too far behind. I still feel like a silly girl inside, one who sings impromptu made up songs and wants to take tap dancing lessons. I have a feeling that never goes away, does it? Last week, anticipating my birthday, I felt disappointed at how much this year looks like last. I live in the same apartment, in the same neighborhood I’ve called home for nine years. But last night I went to sleep thinking how different something can feel from the inside, even when it all looks the same. And this morning I woke up. I’m looking up at the horizon and working against every ancient cell that wants me to remember what’s wrong. Here’s what’s right:
The daffodils are blooming on the hillside in the Quaker cemetery tucked inside Prospect Park. My muscles are sore, whether from the first bike ride of the season or a yoga class on Sunday. I have muscles. Right now, I’m sitting on a chair, my feet up on a matching ottoman, slip-covered by my mom in white cotton duck and driven into Brooklyn in the back of her black minivan as a surprise for my birthday last year. Next to me, on a square table salvaged from the street, is a jade plant that’s been hanging on for years, despite improper care, and my little Copenhagen coffee cup. On my left is a window that looks out on to a parking lot. There is a vine climbing across the screen with popcorn kernel-sized red buds. These are just within the little dotted circle I draw around my day, and I haven’t even mentioned the spare and beautiful first pages of the novel I began on Sunday night, or the way the morning sunlight hits our living room or the new coffee shop I’ve started visiting, where the owners are in love and punk rock and relentlessly cheerful. I haven’t mentioned this space, which is a tribe that feels more important to me than ever. I haven’t even gone outside the circle of the past few days, or out into the larger circles beyond my little life, into our communities, humanity, the universe. As Melissa wrote recently in the comments, “We are mere specks in this universe. Our only task is to put good energy into it.”
But I will leave it there, in this small, sweet little circle filled with good energy and within which there is plenty right.