“What’s good about today?”
My question was met with an icy stare. Her eyes were dark, wide open and looking straight into me.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“Give it a try,” I urged. “What’s good about today?”
She looked away, and then at the floor. I persisted, hoping to break on through to the other side. My persistence only resulted in more resistance. The game turned into a stalemate, left to be played another day. My daughter had that same stare the day she was born, when she shot into the world with a shock of black hair and something to prove.
We tried again the next day. The Morris Family Band was sitting on the floor of our living room, ready for round two. We started around the circle (or square, in this case) and offered up, in our own individual ways, what was good about the day. When it was Rosalia’s turn, I could tell she was not in the mood to play. She got upset, and made it clear that she would sit this one out.
It sounds like a simple game. And it is. You can try it right now, right where you are. Ask yourself the question, and without thinking too hard, blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Say it out loud. Sing it out loud. Write it down. Ask someone else, “What’s good about today?” and give them the opportunity to respond. See what happens.
You may notice some resistance at first. As simple as it is, you might find it a bit challenging. On our third try, Rosalia was sitting across the room, at the kitchen table. By the look on her face, I could tell she was ready for round three. “Ice Cream!” she shouted. “That’s what’s good about today!”
So much for three strikes and you’re out. Rosalia was all in.
Like any game, you get better at “What’s Good About Today?” by playing it. You get better at recognizing what’s good for you, and at allowing other folks to come around in their own time, in their own way.
This month, at Hot House N.H., we’re doing a “Fill Up Your Cup” Challenge. It’s designed to take each of us off our mats and a little deeper into ourselves, into our community and a little deeper into our world. It’s designed to push us to be up to something greater than ourselves. There are the usual challenges: Take each class on the schedule, at various times, with various teachers. Take an early class, take a late class, set up in a different spot in the room. Then there are other challenges: Introduce yourself to someone new. Prepare a meal for someone else. Do a random act of kindness. Share something unique about yourself that no one knows. One of the challenges is “What’s Good About Today?” There are index cards and markers at hand, and students write their own messages out and stick them up on our Challenge Wall. For the first few days, the cards were slow to appear. Now they are coming in bunches. There are no right answers. There is only involvement. There is participation. We build up our community, we connect with one another, one good thing at a time. We can also wait for folks to join in, speak up and make their voices heard. We are up to something greater than ourselves.
One of our students wrote: “I’ll let you know when I figure it out.” That’s an honest start. Keep playing the game, and you get better at it. You get better, in the midst of chaos and confusion, Monday mornings and misinformation, at “What’s Good About Today?”
Here is a sampling of what has appeared on our Challenge Wall this week:
“Two-hour hike with my pooch.”
“Yoga after a tough day at work.”
“The birds are chirping.”
“My mother, Renee.”
After class this afternoon, I made a trip to Sam’s Club, to pick up a few things for the studio. I ran into the mother of a student while waiting to checkout. I asked her: “What’s good about today?” She replied, “I’m healthy, and that’s a good thing.” While on the way out, I ran into someone else, who said: “I have the week off from school. I’ll see you for yoga this week!”
I think we all know that life is not all good things. I also think it’s important to know that, in the midst of a less-than-awesome day, there is always some awe. Some good. Something uniquely you. As we head in for dinner this evening, I ask Rosalia: “What’s good about today?”
Those eyes look right back at me, and she says: “Ballet rehearsal. And a little time outside.” We say a few magic words, slide down the treehouse slide and we are off into the night.