Gratitude notes for June 2020

Another student in dance class tonight was laughing so much that I started laughing. It’s contagious! I’d hear chuckling to my left and couldn’t help but look over and start laughing too. I don’t even know what she was laughing about, but she definitely looked like she was having a good time.

I ran an experiment this morning that was inspired from Brian Koppelman’s Farnam Street podcast episode. I had the idea of storytelling in mind, but I didn’t set any explicit agenda for my session, and I learned a lot in a relatively short amount of time! I learned which stories I value, why I value them, and was also able to identify some stories I already daydream about but haven’t told yet. I felt full and excited when I was done. I also found that I had an amazing amount of energy to do this in the morning, much more than I usually have at night.

I got to see a friend’s awesome homemade videos this afternoon. They were awesome. They were homemade and looked like a lot of fun to make. Watching them reminded me how much fun it was to make videos growing up, too, and left me feeling inspired.

I’m so grateful for the people I’m able to connect to in my life, be it in person, through text, or otherwise. That could all disappear in a moment, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have enjoyed that time for as long as I already have.

Someone sent me a collection of pictures from American history, and I looked through it twice tonight. I don’t usually view myself as a part of history, but today I felt connected to it. Like I’m floating in water and the current does what it wants with me. It makes pictures of people from over 100 years ago seem so much more relatable. I enjoyed that feeling.

I saw the same dog again today and did not recognize the owner one bit. I actually had to ask if “this is the same dog from yesterday?”. The answer was yes. I let the dog smell my groceries.

I’m amazed at the connections I’m able to make in my day-to-day life and how fortunate I am with the people I meet, even today with social distancing orders in effect.

There was a moment today when I pulled my mask away in a public space to apply some sunscreen and drink some water. I felt utterly naked in front of my friends. I said as much and we all agreed. I’m so fascinated how the pandemic will affect our societal norms in the long term.

As I was sorting through my mail, a girl and her dog walked near me to wait for the elevator. I pouted my lips and gave the dog a longing growl as I usually do to say hello. The owner totally noticed. I don’t think she’d seen anyone do that before, and it suddenly hit me how bananas my greeting habit actually is.

Today was my first day doing something with my friends in person. It felt really good. It turns out that bike riding is pleasantly conducive to one-on-one conversations. My body felt surprisingly good during the ride.

I’m in almost-disbelief at the opportunities to be happy to be happy. They’re so frequent, and I was able to see so many today! I’m incredibly fortunate that I’m in a position to capture so many of those moments.

There was a moment today when I felt that I was able to put someone’s mind at ease. It was incredibly rewarding and surprisingly easy to do. All I had to do was be present for them. I didn’t have to be extraordinary or clever or smart or an expert; I just had to show up. I don’t know if that person knows how impactful that moment was for me to reconcieve of how I can help my peers on a daily basis. I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to occupy that role today.

I saw a cancel button today that said “No, thank you. I’m pretty chill.” I imagined how my hometown buddies would read that line in mockery of a stereotypical stoner and burst out laughing.

I feel so lucky for the people and conversations I get to have in my day-to-day life. I’m grateful for my capacity to receive them, as there are so many who are unable.

At the end of our Zoom dance classes, everybody comes in close to their webcams. Nobody is told to do this; the habit developed naturally. Our instructor gives us some encouraging words to depart with, then we go our separate ways. Taking an online dance class might seem trivial, but it’s definitely not. It’s obvious when you see the same happy faces at the end of every class.

I am fully digging “Oath to Order - Remix” by Theophany for running right now. It’s so haunting and powerful, and it gives me existential shivers. I wasn’t even on planet Earth listening to it this morning.

I’m so lucky for all the people I got to spend time with today and who also chose to spend their time with me. Someday, I won’t be able to enjoy people’s company like that anymore, and I’m very thankful for having the time to do so today.

There’s this one section of my apartment that glows with reflected sunlight at about 6p–630p every evening. The rays pour in through the vertical blinds and fall softly across my bicycle frame. It’s so perfect that it almost looks color-corrected. I see it and am immediately transported to a vacation state-of-mind, even if just for a moment. I wonder if it’s more precious because of its scarcity.

Just before bedtime last night, I found this video and watched it. I watched it several times. I used Shazam to find the song so I could listen to it on repeat, and I found myself dancing around my apartment at full tilt through midnight. The thing I noticed the most was how my arms and my torso felt so good under my sweatshirt no matter what moves I did. It was pure physical comfort. I loved it and took full pleasure in focusing on that cozy sensation. It also took me the next two hours to calm down enough to fall asleep, but that spike and excitement was definitely worth the cost.

It’s amazing to me that I’m able to experience love with the people in my life. It’s easy to forget that some people block themselves from being able to experience it, often without even realizing it and without meaning to. I’m extremely lucky that I’ve been afforded the opportunity to enjoy such fantastic relationships.

On my jog today, there was a big puppy and a little puppy. The big puppy was a total goofball. It walked up to the little puppy normally, then just laid down on the tiny thing. The little one retaliated, which escalated the whole encounter so playfully and innocently. They were in their own little joyful world together.

I stumbled across this TED Talk by Bill Burnett today and listened to it probably five times, taking notes on the last listen. He tells the audience the most impactful things he’s learned about applying product design approaches to the experience of life. My main takeaways were how obvious it is to him that we exclusively experience meaning in our lives with other people and how using the process of prototyping helps us take intelligent guesses at your next step forward in our lives.

I’m very lucky for the people in my life I get to talk to on a regular basis and who care about me. I’m also thankful to recognize them now, because someday I won’t be able to enjoy their warmth the way I can today.