Quarantivities & Stories #6: Gratitude during COVID-19

Eva Shen

Sometimes the only time I feel content is during the hour just before bed: time I spend writing in my gratitude journal. My gratitude journal — dark green, with a gold ribbon — was my 2020 New Year’s Resolution: everyday I would write down three things I was grateful for. Grand experiences or the tiniest occurrences, it didn’t matter, so long as I wrote three everyday.

It sounds like something a yogi might tout — or so I thought — but the pleasing look of my new journal and its pages of colored pen kept me going. What I didn’t expect was the pleasure I received from sitting down, slowly mulling over the day’s memories, choosing the most pleasant moments and physically penning down my thoughts. As the pages thickened and curdled with pen scrapes, my book of gratitude built.

Mediocre days when I couldn’t think of three things forced out the most interesting thoughts. In one entry, dated Jan. 24, I desperately churned out a paragraph on how the sky was a miracle, a guardian wrapping itself around the earth. But I couldn’t always fill in the blanks — and thus my gratitude journal encouraged me to cultivate happy moments throughout the day, to be documented later.

Gratitude for my parents, my sister and my friends, normally given a fleeting thought, suddenly took on weight and became reality. My own thoughts, and therefore my entire being, felt more substantial on paper. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic arose, my journal flooded with gratitude that my dad was able to work from home and my family was together. Even now — especially now — pen and paper serve as a filter through which only the good is allowed. Meanwhile, just perhaps, the stress is filtered out.