tokens

There’s a game I play. In my basement on a low table near where I do much of my writing I keep two bowls. In the bowls are eleven rocks. In the mornings on my way to write or on my way to feed the cat, whichever comes first, I move a rock from one bowl to the other depending on the following:

If I managed to get to bed by 11pm the preceding night then I move a rock from the bowl on the right to the bowl on the left. If not, I move one from left to right.

Once all eleven rocks are in the bowl on the left, I get a treat. There is no penalty for a bowl full of rocks on the right.

I made up this playful practice several months ago to help motivate me to head to bed a bit earlier than I was in the habit of doing. And it has served that function. But there’s something else, I realized this morning, that this practice does for me.

Each morning, while thinking of my bodied needs (in this case, sleep) I touch a stone. Each day holds a moment when my finger tips connect with another instance of earth, treating it as a token of my own being. This everyday practice has become for me a simple and subtle reminder of my origin, my identity, my belonging as human — as an imaginative assembly of breath-filled dust. I find this comforting. And inspiring.

Plus: I like treats.