My “Thankful” Journal

I sat down at the computer, armed with a steaming cup of instant coffee. In the midst of my morning routine of simultaneous web-surfing, podcast downloads, and lacing up of my running shoes, I saw evidence that Jenn had once again failed to sleep through the night. My RSS feed reader showed that her blog had been updated during the night.

Her most-recent entries contained three specific things she was thankful for that particular day. Reading each of those reminded me that I used to also maintain such lists myself, in a journal that I handmade from raw materials.

Although we had recently moved and many of my older things were still in boxes. I knew exactly where that journal was. So before I headed outside for my morning run, I dug it out of the closet and inadvertently journeyed eight years back in time.

The first entries were in 2000, inspired by my friend Ellen and her suggestion that tough times are easier to navigate when we remember what’s most important. In fact, she wrote the first entry, listing her five “thankfuls” that particular day:

May 1, 2000:

1) Brown eyes
2) D Milk
3) Horns
4) No fear of dog spit
5) My health

The next day, I started writing entires on a regular basis, each day trying to list five things that I hadn’t previously recorded. Some of my specific “thankfuls” require little explanation, and they all apply today:

“Poptarts and coffee — the breakfast of champions”

“A nice set of boobs”

“Being a Skeeball wizard”

“Knowing it’s not always my fault”

However, the context for others have faded with the passage of time. I once wrote “That Zoe has such good friends.” I have no idea who Zoe was, but I hope she’s doing alright. And I can only imagine the fun I had the night before I wrote “Not knowing where I was when I woke up!”

For a good stretch, I was dedicated enough to write five “thankfuls” per day. However, the entries began to peter out around July of that year. That was the month before I relocated to Austin — perhaps I had packed the book away in preparation for the move? If that was the case, it was eventually unpacked, as entries resumed again around October.

However, the last entry was dated October, right before I returned to Denton for my college’s homecoming:

October 4, 2000:

1) Hope that I’ll find love again
2) Pajamas
3) Big baby eyes
4) Celis White
5) Historical perspective

No more entries after that. It was during the following weekend I found out that Rebecca was engaged to marry someone else, as big of a kick to my spiritual nuts as could ever be given. I imagine that’s why I stopped writing altogether.

Yet as I reread that distant final entry, I winced at the thought that I had lost the ability to count my blessings. Obviously since then, I’ve rediscovered this resource, and nary a day goes by where I’ve not motivated by how incredibly freakin’ lucky I am. My homemade journal was so beautiful. Handbound with needle and thread, with a cover of delicate rice paper and rose petals, it would be a shame for this piece of art to continue gathering dust. That just wouldn’t do.

So I pulled out my pen and wrote the first of hopefully many new daily “thankfuls”:

May 21, 2008:

1) My home
2) My health
3) My wife