Gratitude notes for April 2020

I had a conversation today about waking up each morning thinking of myself as a visitor who gets to spend today in this particular life.

As a visitor, time is scarce in a way that makes the value of the present more apparent. Tourists don’t get upset that they’re somewhere new for a short period of time; they’re thankful to be there and aim to make the most of it.

With this particular life, I have a lot of advantages. I’m loved, I’m healthy, and I’m safe. I’ve found activities that I’m able to enjoy on an ongoing basis, and I have an unprecedented degree of freedom around how I spend my time.

Thinking of myself this way really puts my problems into perspective. We’d chatted about this a week ago, and when it came up in conversation again today, it felt fitting to write it down somewhere. It’s helped me by turning on the part of my brain that notices possibilities outside my self-imposed boundaries. My life can be as large as I choose to make it.

I took a drive through LA today to keep the juices in my car flowing, and I found myself touring one of Beverly Hills’ wealthier neighborhoods. The architectural variety in areas like those is inspiring. People dreamed up those houses and then made them a reality. They exist because somebody stepped outside the norm and decided to build them.

I also drove by a man casually strolling along the sidewalk in a tight green Speedo. I immediately liked this man. He wasn’t hurting anyone, and he looked comfortable in it. We should all be a little more like him.

Today was sunshiny and warm, so I toured my neighborhood with a jog. With everyone ordered to stay home because of COVID-19, there were lots of people out and about.

It’s wonderful to have such a lively neighborhood full of people. Before COVID, I never saw so many people out enjoying the parks and the sunshine in a more urban part of the city like I’m in now. It was always pretty empty except for a few people going to their cars or going somewhere. Today, people were out just to be out. The neighborhood felt alive. I know I felt energized; everybody else must have been feeling the same way.

Everyone was wearing masks, too. That’s the surreal part of it for me. The sudden normalcy of it is jarring.

A lot of people are suffering because of COVID right now. I wonder how this situation will affect our culture, our communities, and our values, and I wonder how we’ll look back on how we handled this pandemic.