When I awoke this morning at 4, the temperature outside was in the 30s. The cold air was slanting in through the window open a few inches above our bed. The room was dark. When I wake up, especially at such an early hour, I tend to let my head fill up with whatever thoughts come along. For some months, those early morning thoughts have not been pleasant. Dread, fear regret, sadness. All the ways life could have been better. All the ways I imagine others’ lives are better.
But I was warm under our comforter, topped by a crocheted black and white afghan that an old family friend had given to my husband when he went off to college. And, I am learning more and more that it is pointless to indulge in a line of thinking that leads to self pity and worry. Where do these thoughts lead me expect to a bad mood, fearful of putting one foot in front of the other?
Our tabby kitten likes to sleep with my husband and me. Sometimes he curls up way down under the covers by our feet. When I woke up this morning, Pippin was sleeping on my pillow, right next to my head. The pillow felt soft beneath my cheek, so was his small warm weight against the back of my head. When I adjusted my position, he crawled over my head, and nestled himself against my chest. He stretched his lean furry body up so that his head was resting on my cheek. He purred.
A friend told me how she wrote in her journal before going to bed each night, listing all the things in her day she was grateful for. This gratitude list, she said, helped shift her thinking before sleep, so that she’d wake up feel much less overwhelmed by the coming day.
I might be too lazy to make a nightly gratitude journal. But this morning, with the kitten's cheek against mine, I felt grateful. For him. For this time in bed, quiet in my thoughts, even if they were not necessarily easy to manage. For having my husband next to me, and my son sleeping in the next room. For being warm.
The kitten kept purring until he fell back in a silent sleep, happy and safe in his own cat dreams.