Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat,
A new poem,
My library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.
And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
Well, this is a long one but as you can see, that is the whole point. And I actually have done this, started with the traditional three things for which I am grateful on this particular day and realized there were more. And more. And still more.
Of course, each person’s list will be unique and different on different days. Simple things for the most part, reading on the porch while the rain pours down around me, the taste of mango gelato, walking the summer evening streets with a friend, the scent of the single peach-coloured Peace rose from my parents’ garden which is now in mine, shared cups of jasmine tea, clean sun-baked-wind-dried sheets, the love and support of my family, the sweetness and constancy of my friendships. You see what I mean.
It’s a small practice and humble, / And yet, I find I sleep better / Holding what lightens and softens my life / Ever so briefly at the end of the day. It’s true. These are the things that lighten and soften my life, enrich my days. It’s simply a matter of paying attention, noticing what can escape my notice when I am distracted. And even on my worst days, I can always be grateful for food and shelter and my health, even when it’s not the best.
When I first came to the last stanza, I found myself grinning too. This poem is cause for gratitude in itself. May you too get on a roll. Start naming and listing and find yourself awash with wonder at the sweetness of it all.
ps With gratitude to my daughter Chloe for the close-up of leaves from our lushly prolific ginko tree.