Just as I rest my fingers on the keys, a freight train rumbles by. I think of a shower curtain being pulled open – metal rings sliding on a metal rod. Let’s get started with the day.

Leonard comes in to thank me for breakfast. He does that by rubbing his face on my legs (or more likely, I am a human napkin). Then he flops on the small rug next to my desk. He’s spend a good deal of the summer in here in the library. And I have often felt somewhat shamed when I’ve passed by the room without coming in to write. He loves routine, and kept his while I let mine go for a summer. But we are back on the same page now: morning walk, yoga (yes, he lies on the edge of my mat – and there is something about a bridge that still concerns him so he is always up to check my upside-down breathing: snout to nose), then coffee (breakfast) and this little room.

I am thinking that the key to serenity is to divide the day into segments and focus on one thing at a time. One task, one worry, one hope. But most days it feels like I’m trying to herd angry little shrews. I suppose it is progress to be able to stand apart and watch them scrambling, though. Writing is both difficult and not. Morning journaling is difficult, but my mind is sliding effortlessly back towards poetry. At least towards the desire and the atmosphere. It’s like sitting down with an old love and finding – oh, yes, I remember this ease.

Holding two truths at once: not everything is characterised by ease now. I dream I wake often. It has been happening for over a year now. Most often I have symptoms of Covid 19, but lately I have an allergic reaction to an herb and lie waiting for my tongue to swell. I itch. I wonder where/when the line is: time to call an ambulance, or too late. I’m awake now and get up to check my torso for rashes. My lips for swelling.

I am fine this morning. Finishing my coffee and heading out for a run before work. But tonight I know I’ll go through it all again. I will wash my face, brush my teeth, lie on the shakti mat and meditate. But at some point, the shrews will slip beneath door and scramble up onto the bed.

While Leonard sleeps soundly until morning.

Leonard is getting used to the 4:30 walk, the new route, the passing freight train. Every morning is a little darker. But I’m guessing it means every morning brings a little more mystery, a little more of a demand to focus, to be alert. Alert but not alarmed. Not on guard. Not braced.

That’s all about me, not him, I suppose.

On Tuesday I got a massage and the therapist told me my muscles hadn’t been this loose for a very long time. I think it’s odd, considering how much pain I feel. My left shoulder, my right achilles. But yeah: there seems to be an ease around my solar plexus, and the feeling that someone has unbuttoned my sternum to let it all hang out, so to speak. So many images come to mind: wrung washclothes, snapped open and hung to dry and stiffen in the still afternoon, unfurled and perfect ferns exposed to the summer’s harsh sun because that is the way of the world. There’s no getting through it unscathed. Might as well relax for the ride.

This morning I am considering gratitude. And fortunes: good and bad. I’m trying to step back and find perspective enough to let go of “good and bad”, but find it confusing in connection to gratitude. I have been thinking about my relationship with my mother and the estrangement. And in this particular “unbuttoning” I find nothing I would have done differently. Nothing I regret in terms of my choices, my behavior. Isn’t my gratitude for this peace a kind of judgement? That this is “good”? The good perspective in the bad?

I looked up gratitude and it comes from the Latin word gratus which means pleasing or thankful. Does this mean we are grateful for what pleases us? Maybe it is our job to trace our thoughts through connections of phenomenon until we find a consequential “good” to be thankful for?

I don’t know. Even though it feels like the good thing to do, it looks an awful lot like rationalization. An intellect forever in service to emotions. Forever seeking pleasure.