I thought about it, knowing that she needed an answer, needed to know that I was out there. I wanted to offer her something useful. I wasn't sure if I had anything useful. It wasn't so long ago that I would have asked that question, if I'd even been brave enough to ask that question. Which I wasn't.
I take a walk, I suggested. I take a deep breath. I eat something I like. Do something for someone else that makes them happy, which makes *me* happy. Take pictures of things I find beautiful. Write to a friend. Write down what I feel, and either publish it on the internet or crumple it up and throw it away. I listen to music that makes me feel better. I listen to music that makes me feel worse, and then better.
I paused. And then: What do *you* do?
Text you, she responded. Maybe I'll try writing.
Later, I added: Maybe drink a cup of hot tea. Something about inhaling the warm steam makes me feel better, too.
I'd always thought that I wasn't very good at mindfulness, but in that moment, looking at that list, I realized that I've gotten very good at it after all.
She'd asked me, the other day, what I like to do, too. "Yoga, dance, baking, cooking, writing ..." It sounded like a very housewife-like answer.
"What do you write?"
"Well, I used to write poetry ... I'm not very good at fiction. Now I write ... life essays, I guess." I didn't want to tell her I blog. It's too easy to find me. If she wanted to, she would.
"Life essays." A curious half-smile.
"It's sort of like ... it's like what you like about science research. You like to look at small things under a microscope, and figure out how life works. I take small things, make them larger with language, and try to figure out how they work."
I'd never thought about it that way before, but as soon as I said it, I knew it was true.
Later, I pulled up at the farm to pick up my share. When I got out, I took a deep breath, and felt my whole body relax into the dusk. I took out my phone, almost sent her a picture. And this, I would say. I do this.
But even if I wanted her to feel the weight drop away, as I just had, it wouldn't have been useful advice. This wasn't something she could do. I couldn't send her the crisp air, or the sweet smell of hay, or the chill dusk that crept over the fields.
Instead, I'm sending it to you. Through my mindful magnifying glass.
What do you do when you're having a bad day?