Rewired

The blanket I’d thrown on the chair, my chair, smelled like the dog. It’s the blanket I took off the bed to wash days ago and the dog’s been laying on it, of course. These days I don’t seem to rush into optional activity—like washing that blanket —and the definition of what is necessary has changed just a bit.   Since I’ve been sitting in the chair, wrapped in that blanket, I smell like a dog, too, and a shower might not be optional.

I’ve been somewhat casually taking a class online. The class is free if you don’t expect to turn in assignments or get a grade. I do take the computer-graded quizzes with instant results and without consequences. I guess my motives aren’t entirely altruistic since I do like to know I am in control of the right answers.

I do keep track of the assigned “rewirements,” though, an interesting name for personal actions that are suggested with each week’s lesson. Some are practices I already had intended to do, just not daily. I’m 5-6 weeks into the process of a gradual layering of these rewirements. I guess I should mention that the class is The Science of Well Being and, according to the course description, is designed to increase my happiness and build more productive habits for well being.

My reasons for signing up for the course weren’t exactly those intended. My friend, Stacy, whom I’ve spent a good amount of “class time” with, enrolled and I followed. We’d learned from popular media that students have flocked to the on-campus version of the course for several years. The course we are taking is a commercialized version of the university one. Nonetheless, for me, it is another lens with which to view some practices Stacy and I both hold close.

Some of the course’s suggested rewirements, like “social connections,” I only sustained for the week assigned due to my penchant to avoid being social. I have reworked the idea to mean having eye contact and maybe even a kind word with others that the dog and I might pass on our daily walk. The course calls this a random kindness rather than a connection, but I’m okay with that delusion. I have faithfully recorded each evening my gratitude for that day (at least 5) and recalled something I savored. I am encouraged to step outside an experience I love, to review and appreciate the positive emotions for even longer than that actual moment—the art of savoring.

On this evening when I decided to take a shower when the smelly dog smell from that dirty blanket lingered on me, too, the shower felt especially good. I am thankful for the instant hot water heater we have at this house. No waiting. I also like washing my face with Noxema and the nostalgic smell of eucalyptus that lingers. And even though it was only about 8:30 p.m., I decided to just go ahead and sit under the fresher smelling sheets on my bed and record my day’s gratitude and other “rewirement” requirements in my notebook. When I came to the savoring part I hesitated, scanning the day, wondering what did I do that I loved and could relive at that moment? It was a short pause.

THIS moment is what I am savoring: a hot shower, a clean feeling, a quiet warm place to sit and ponder. It was that moment before me I loved, to write what I wanted, and then to read without guilt or thinking of other things I might be doing.  I read the “change your mind” book my son had recommended. and read more about a 92-year-old author whose name I’d written in my notebook, and switched to the novel I’m reading—savoring the writing that’s difficult to define—almost a stream of consciousness from inside each character, the randomness of thoughts that also come in the midst of something else that is telling without overtly doing anything. This is an invitation to linger—accepting is necessary.

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