During dinner time, we have gotten into the habit of asking each other “What was your favorite part of our day?” We go around the table, typically someone starts off and mentions something we did together or something that brought a lot of joy. Then someone asks our son, who doesn’t speak yet, and someone acts as ventriloquist and says for him his favorite part of the day. Our daughter always insist on going after our son, so she goes next. Hers are always the best. She goes on and on and lists every part of her day as her favorite part. It goes something like this:
“Myyyyyyy favorite part of the day was getting up, doing yoga, eating breakfast, going to school, going to the potty, taking a nap, bounce house, playing with Gigi (her grandma), making tortillas,having a ssssssnack, playing doll house, swimming in the pool, having dinner. And that’s my favorite part of the day”
I typically go last, and in these days of quarantine, most of my days have included lots of family time, hikes, swims, projects, teaching, cooking, you name it. Invariably, my days are filled with joy and my favorite part of my day answer is a lot like my daughter’s maybe with a touch more polish but overall it is the mundane things, the things I have been present for that give me the greatest joy.
The other day I worked most of the day, writing, planning, reading, learning, catching up, etc… I was productive as all hell, what a rhythm. I was getting shit done. At 4 pm, as is my custom, I packed up my things, went inside the house, made dinner while everyone else played. I love cooking dinner for the family. It is a great joy. However, on this day, when it was my turn to answer the question, I came up blank. I had lots of great moments in my day, I was clearly joyful and set out what I wanted to do for the day. Yet, that bliss was not there. That ecstasy was missing. The difference between the joy I feel when we are all present and doing even the simplest of things and “getting shit done” was just not the same.
Before becoming a father, I did not have something to compare my experiences, too. But now when my days are mostly filled with joy and bliss even from the most ordinary of activities. I can feel the difference. Do not get me wrong, we need days and time spent doing work we love and feel fulfilled in, but in proportion to a whole day of not being engaged in the other world, the world of the blissful and divine that is family and presence, there is no comparison.
ps As a matter of habit, we have started journaling the answers from the dinner table into a daily record. It is quite amazing to see how the answers evolve in terms of the kids’ development, but also how similar they are everyday to each other and how prosaic they can be and still be our favorite. Also, as we have different guests and people in our lives, these books are an history of the company we keep, they highlight moments and how special they must be in our lives to share a place at our table. Try it!