It’s April 1st, 2020. As a nation we have 30 more days of isolation. As today is my 18th day off from work, it’s hard to imagine how we will all endure the coming weeks. It’s a mental game, for sure. As I woke up to a foggy, rainy day in Chicago with still winter temperatures, I noticed that it was challenging to be positive. Instead of my usual morning meditation, and because I didn’t leave my apartment for the past two days (or was it three?), I decided, and I NEEDED, to get some air. I passed by the Apple Store to take some pictures, and this sparked something in me. I think it was a bit of joy as I took the photo from the bottom of the stairs looking up, and the reflection of the city from the glass looked beautiful. There was even fog captured on the skyline but it’s so subtle that I don’t think anyone would even notice. Anyway, I kept walking. I crossed Michigan Avenue and walked along the path following the river while wishing that I could be closer to it. I still found it incredulous that all parks are closed. At least I had the city’s gorgeous architecture, I thought. I kept walking and taking pictures until it got too cold and my ears felt like they were frozen.
I walked toward Whole Foods hoping to see the woman who is usually right at the entrance by the floral section. These days (because of the isolation) my friends are my doorman and the friendly people at Whole Foods, LOL! Immediately upon entering I saw a guy in the floral section who handed me a packet of toilet paper which was saved by the woman I was hoping to see, but it was her day off. Can you believe that this woman held this for me since the last time I saw her I told her I couldn’t find toilet paper for two whole weeks? And it wasn’t the small 4 pack, either. It was the jumbo 12 pack! I’m laughing at myself as I write this thinking WHY THE HELL AM I SO HAPPY SEEING TOILET PAPER???? 😂😂😂 How time, perspective, and life changes in a matter of days and weeks because of this damn pandemic! As I walked past the paper aisle and saw that the shelves were empty AGAIN, I felt so grateful for my friend at Whole Foods looking out for me.
I brought home a new vegetable which happened to be a golden beet. I can’t recall the last time I had beets at a restaurant; it’s probably been a year or so. I’m new at this cooking thing so for some reason it feels like a new experiment every time I add a new ingredient to my kitchen. After washing it, when I cut into it the explosion of the beautiful golden color made me smile. I felt like I was unveiling a precious object, a gift even, and I found it odd that this gave me such pleasure. For some reason I thought about a chapter from the book, EAT, PRAY, LOVE. It was the part where Liz Gilbert is in Rome, and she just delights in the simplicity of going to the market and eating basic things like eggs, cheese, and bread back at her apartment. She compared the act of making something out of nothing, putting together her lunch, as an act of art. Of course, I’m not in Italy! 😩 But my new found unexpected pleasure was worth noticing, absorbing, and appreciating.
This got me to thinking that because today is the first day of a new month, and since I can’t work until who knows when, I should start a more disciplined practice of gratitude. Studies on gratitude have shown that there are numerous benefits to mental health as well as overall happiness. Who couldn’t use some of this with the current situation in the world? So every day I will appreciate the small gifts of pleasure that I will receive. I write this with such a positive expectation that I KNOW there will be so many things that will make me smile, damn it! Like today’s gift of kindness from the woman at Whole Foods as well as the visual pleasure of the senses from a golden beet, from now on I will graciously notice the small daily delights of life during this unprecedented time in our lives. Assuming the gift of life is extended to me until tomorrow, I can’t wait to see what kind of joy tomorrow brings.