You catch me in an optimistic mood. I’m trying an experiment suggested by Mrs LC. It involves taking five minutes to write down three things each day for which you’re grateful. Wash, rinse, repeat once a day for 21 days, and see where you get to.
It has, I think, a couple of aims: on the bad days, to give you some quick reminders that the world isn’t completely without merit. It also helps keeps your mind focused on positive things, no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem.
But whilst I neither want to, nor could, write Everything is Awesome: the Blog, that kind of stuff is out there.
Take this Seattle-based mom whose blog I started following when her husband got laid off by one of my former employers. How would her positivity cope, I wondered, with one of the biggest curveballs life can throw at you?
The answer, as you can see from her new blog, Drops of Awesome, was to turn it up to 11 and channel all of her positivity into an entire blog / lifestyle of cheeriness.
That’s a bit too hard core for me, but each to their own. I have plenty of days when I stare at the screen and think: what the hell can I write about that isn’t going to drive everyone away?
So I thought I’d try a version of the experiment for this post, and see what happens.
I’m grateful that the city’s best park, at the MIA, has opted to extend its monthly bazaar into a weekly edition, running every Saturday until May. (The bazaar even has updated and accurate information on its website, which is so antithetical to the way of life here it’s almost rude.)
The only exception to that is 28th March, because the Qatar International Food Festival will be taking place all over – and above – the park from 24-28 March.
The new weekly edition also features food stalls which mean that you don’t even get as far as the museum’s excellent café before you’re confronted by stalls from a dozen different countries all offering some kind of local twist (an urn of karak, typically) on their national delicacies.
There’s also clothes, jewellery, handicrafts, and henna tattoos for any pre-teen girls in your house. It’s about as ramshackle as shopping gets in this city (even the main Souq Waqif is an ersatz copy of the market that was knocked down to make room for its replacement) and it’s all the better for it.
And just as I can be grateful for the perfect weekend sunshine, I’m also grateful for the thunder, lightning and rain this week (my son’s teacher said the rain calms everyone down, and they get a lot more done when the atmosphere is both metaphorically and literally cooler).
(Also grateful are the car wash guys at the mall, because the rain here in Qatar is filthy.
Any Doha driver will know that feeling of dread that having your car washed brings – almost as if the act itself is daring the elements to channel their inner Jackson Pollock to throw mucky splodges all over your previously pristine paintwork.)
I’m grateful that I learnt from my mistake last week, and took my book with me on my latest trip to the bank, which turned out to be a 2 hr mission to replace my credit card (having been brought in by a deliberately misleading message about my old card’s security).
I’m grateful for the shopping trip we made for Mrs LC’s birthday. She had asked for a new curry leaves plant to replace the one we brought back from Goa a couple of years ago.
I took the kids one afternoon after school and we found her a new one in the first nursery we tried. Five minutes, 15 riyals, job done.
Sing when you’re winning
And I’m grateful that there weren’t any knock-on effects from not getting to bed until 1am on a school night this week, having stayed up to watch the mighty Reading FC cruise 3-0 past Bradford and reach their first FA Cup semi-final since 1927. (Click this link to travel back in time)
For fans of other sports, the FA Cup is the oldest knockout football (soccer) competition in the world. For my team, Reading, to make it this far is the domestic equivalent of the Olympic appearance by the Jamaican bobsled team, as immortalised in Cool Runnings.
I’m grateful that Amnesiac didn’t mind me hijacking his school run to turn the result into a topical maths quiz. “If Reading last got to the semis in 1927, how many years ago was that?”
There was a silence for about half a minute or so. Then he replied “88”, and carried on reading his Beast Quest book.
Reading will play Arsenal (who are a league above, and a universe beyond, us) at Wembley next month. The gratitudes experiment only goes so far – it might make my outlook a touch more optimistic, but it’s not going to turn me into a deluded fool.
The head to head record speaks for itself – we’ve never beaten them, ever, in any competition. Did I mention ever? – but it’ll be an amazing day out, however many we lose by.
I’m grateful that, between baking cookies with the kids for (UK) Mother’s Day and baking a cake with the kids for Mrs LC’s birthday, we’ll have a had a very family oriented week before she heads off on business travel this weekend – which means I’m in charge of cooking again. (Wait, the Food Festival doesn’t start till the 24th? Hope you like cereal and toast, kids!)
I have no idea how long the effects of my gratitude-hunting will last once the experiment is over, but by then we will have headed East for Easter and be somewhere (Vietnam) where mindfulness and gratitude are as much part of daily life as pensioners exercising in the park.
Maybe I’ll be so grateful by then, that the non-stop street food and beer-that’s-cheaper-than-water will just tip me over the edge into delirium. We shall see.
What small things are you grateful for?