Back in the old days, when I used to ride my dinosaur to school, uphill mind you, both ways, and use my command line ui computer, there's this thing I used to encounter, the Abort, Retry, Fail prompt.  

"Not ready reading drive A - Abort, Retry, Fail?"

"Not ready reading drive A - Abort, Retry, Fail?"

Most nerds have seen this lovely little fellow.  It's the indicator that that thing you were trying to do just now (most likely getting a file off a floppy disk that wasn't inserted properly, or perhaps at all) wasn't working out, and that it's time to make a decision about it.

I know, I know... floppy disks.  So retro.

Anyhow, the reason I bring up the A. R. F. is because it's relevant in life too.  Although maybe the order's wrong.  This year I decided to explicitly not number my gratitude days, because it set up a sort of expectation roller coaster that was driving me a little batty.  I'd get behind, and rush to catch up, or goof up the count, or some such, and it would just make me pressure myself about it in a way that wasn't fun.

So I decided in 2016 that I'd ditch that altogether.  Then I got the idea to still jot them down in a handy app on my phone, just a little bit of shorthand, so that I'd capture them, still know the number really, and be able to jot them down later. 

Well, that worked just great - until the middle of March, which for one reason or another turned into a very busy, tiring month.  I dutifully jotted stuff down all right, but got so behind in actually writing the posts that my little shorthand ended up losing context for me, and I just couldn't manage to decipher what I'd meant.

Why did I fuzz out the shorthand?  Because that's kind of what reading some of the entries felt like two weeks or so after I'd written some cryptic summary for myself.

Why did I fuzz out the shorthand?  Because that's kind of what reading some of the entries felt like two weeks or so after I'd written some cryptic summary for myself.

Here's the thing though.  It's really okay.  I'm not scrapping my gratitude practice at all.  No, far from it.  In fact, this whole fail at a new way of doing it, abort that process, and retry yet another way has become this sort of mega-meta-gratitude.

I forgot along the way why I started doing this practice in the first place.  The value is (go ahead, roll your eyes right along with me) in the doing of it.  It's not about completing a collection, indulging in reverie, anything like that.  All those are nice additions to the main purpose of the thing, which is to stay present and write it down.

But, that's totally okay.  In fact, it's better than okay.  This "getting off-course and finding-my-way-again" sort of stuff, this is the very essence of mindfulness.  When I am mindful, I don't really even notice it, celebrate it, or frankly, give a shit about it.  I just do.  The only time I am aware of my um, "percentage of mindfulness" is when it's less than 100% and dropping.  When that happens, it's like this little gong goes off in my head, or a little voice whispers to me:

"Psst, hey, this whatever-it-is-you're-doing-right-now, it's not working for you!" it might say.

or maybe "You're caught up in expectations about the past and the future!"

or perhaps "You're congratulating yourself instead of paying attention."

or, my least favorite, "Why don't you stop shaming yourself?  It's not necessary."

Ouch, right?

But kind of not really.  Because as soon as I hear my little voice, I laugh, gently, right along with it, and remember that this one moment, right here, right now, is the only moment, and it goes on without end for so long as I am alive.

And when that happens, I realize it's time to try again, and I'm grateful for it.

Just like now.


AuthorMako Allen