For many years, when someone asked me, “how was your week?”, I often replied, “good, not much happened, how about you?”— quickly deflecting the attention from myself to another. For some reason, those questions--how are you? how was your week? what are you up to?--asked out of courtesy and good-nature, made me feel shame, as if I had done something wrong and they were confronting me about it. Assessing my life was a painful process because I graded my day based on my accomplishments and productivity.
I have this one friend who, when I ask her that same question, answers excitedly for things like “a bunny ate my mom’s plants,” “I slept in,” or “I tried a new vegetarian recipe.” Her eyes light up, she sends me the recipe or book title, and then asks me about something I mentioned to her in the past, genuinely wanting to catch-up, genuinely listening to everything I tell her about my life. Through our video calls, infrequent and scheduled between work meetings, I learned to appreciate the beauty of the mundane.
It's hard if there's so much going on in your mind, but if by some miracle, the radio quiets down, and your attention spotlights on what's in front of you, try looking closely at the creases on your hand, the way they wrinkle depending on your hand movements. Look at the glow of light from your lamp, the way it brightens the whole room. Look at the fabric knots in your blanket, the way it threads together with thousands of strands. There are mini miracles all around us. And it's not just appreciation for the little things that my friend has taught me, it's also the power of intimate and consistent conversations in helping us experience beauty. Alex, if you're reading this now—I'm so grateful for you!
I’m now in a fight against the need to prove my worth through productivity and hustling. I’ve found that a good antidote to insecurity is gratitude. Gratitude for the abundance and necessities around me like fresh air and family, the things we all have and the things we all so easily forget.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.” - Leo Tolstoy
So, in resistance against the urge to rush through life, in full confidence that my week was good and it had nothing to do with what I did but who I am, here are some photos from my week of moments that made me pause and think “wow, I’m so grateful."
This week's read: writing as autonomy
It's daunting to start blogging again. Thank you so much for all the support. Special thank you to Ali, who I've always looked up to because he's an amazing writer and editor and human, and whom I now call my friend, for sharing this substack post which I'll read it over and over again. You are giving me courage and also the tools needed to write, and I can't thank you enough.
How about you? What's your go-to reply to the question "how was your week?" Let me know in the comments or shoot me a message!
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Elisa is a Vietnamese-Canadian writer and editor. Her work focuses on familial love, self-discovery, and immigrant experiences.