The Book of Good Things

There’s an old song that was once a favorite of mine called Whatever Gets You Through the Night. I liked it because I thought the concept of the title was fair as well as necessary on many occasions. My mind is not, on its own, a quiet place. Generally, I am also one of those busy people, actively engaged for most of the day and on my feet a lot. Unless I’ve worn myself completely out, though, my mind will pick up the slack as soon as my body signs off for the day. Since mid-2016 when it became evident that the political climate was getting ugly, on the nights when I haven’t worn myself out working during the day, my mind has been partying in the shadows prior to sleep.

After a few months of that crap and a lot of really bad dreams I decided to try reading the Tao before bed but that did very curious things to my dream life. It’s difficult to put into words but I’ll try quickly to explain: the mind belongs to the waking life; the body is in charge when we sleep. The Tao is philosophy, a mental endeavor, and a perplexing endeavor on purpose. The body prefers things simple. My body, after hauling me around for 70 years, is used to occasional low-level anxiety which is, of course, a mental state but because my body is used to that, it tolerates that particular subtle wave as a matter of course but I don’t think it was prepared for the sort of full-out philosophical paradox that the Tao provides, especially right before sleep. It rebelled, providing me with a series of unpleasant dreams night after night. Although not nearly as bad as the dreams I’d been having for months, what I’d been hoping for was a complete respite.

So I stopped reading the Tao but I knew that I needed to do something to center myself, to calm my mind before sleep and, as so often happens in my life, I stumbled across an idea, this time in the form of a blank gift journal; you know the kind: they always have very pretty covers and a lot of blank pages and carry an air of perfection that makes it seem as though you should write something important in them, something so relevant that it will never change, something worthy of the sheer beauty that the cover promises. So you never write anything in them at all.

Anyway, strictly by chance I came across this beautiful hunter green book of pages — sewn in, mind you! — with a peacock engraved on the leather cover. I have no idea where that journal came from, or who gave it to me; I’ve probably had it for years. But I thought to myself, as soon as I saw it: I can use this book; I can put it next to my bed and every night before I go to sleep the sight of it on my bedside table will remind me to write down something good inside it. The process of doing so will rein in my mind. It was an instantaneous inspiration.

That night, as I went to put my plan into effect, I realized that the good thing or things that I would write down would be something that had happened during that very day because that would remind both my mind and my body that there was good in my world every day. And, at least as far as I’m concerned, there are hundreds of good things in my world every day, little things, like a particularly good cup of coffee, for instance, a bird landing on the branch outside the window where I can watch it build its nest for a while, or a call from my daughter. For me, the list is pretty much endless which is why my state of mind for about the past nine months has been so distressing, because I am at heart, a truly content person. It does not take much to satisfy me, to make me happy.

So now, each night, before bed, in my beautiful book, I write down the day of the week and the date and follow that with whatever particularly pleasant things stand out from my day. Just a few words usually; I don’t go into detail. Last week when I spent days entertaining a hacking cough, the best thing about one of those days was having found a really good cough medicine the day before that had also allowed me to sleep through that night. One good thing turns out to be enough for my body to sleep comfortably on.

I have been writing in The Book of Good Things (which title I have inscribed on the very first page) for a little over two weeks now; my dreams have definitely improved; my waking mindset has definitely improved. I suspect that this is because the quality of the night’s sleep that one gets affects ones waking time since sleeping allows the body to restore itself to the degree that it is able to do so. At any rate, it’s a simple thing, this practice, so I thought I’d pass it on, in case it might prove useful or promising for someone else.

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Astrology-Informed Artist; Author of self-help books on healing with Ozark Mt. Publishers; survivor

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V Pendragon

V Pendragon

Astrology-Informed Artist; Author of self-help books on healing with Ozark Mt. Publishers; survivor

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