I don’t do nightly journaling perfectly, not at all. There are many evenings when I fall asleep with the kids at bedtime, other nights when I’m simply resistant to writing, and still other evenings when I choose to give my attention to something else — a conversation with Eric, a long voicemail exchange with a friend, or of course, a very pressing puzzle game on my phone.

But when I do write for a few moments at the end of the day, I often give myself the prompt of this beloved question:

What really happened today?

What “really happened,” for me, has to do with aliveness, with movement. It’s how I ask, where was there true aliveness in the day? When did something in me move? When did I really feel, or encounter something new, or grow? When did something that mattered to another human being’s heart and wellbeing happen?

Every day has events and appointments, its swirl of action. Every day offers us the tempting opportunity to summarize it according to the things written in the calendar, or the tasks accomplished by its end.

And so we have to intentionally look at the day through a different lens. When I ask myself this question, I’m looking for what I consider to be the real plot of the story, my real life.

When I ask myself what really happened, my answers turn out to be things like this:

the hearty shared laugh with a friend
the moment of feeling a fear and naming it
any real moment of extending care or meaningful support to another human being
moments when I was shown a blindspot of my own, or when a long held belief was challenged
moments of present witness to a child’s delight, and moments of truly attending to their tears

It’s always moments – not hours or events – that comprise what really happened that day.

I find that as I ask this question, I begin to live my days more and more aware of these alive moments, and therefore more able to create them, notice them, and meet them with presence.

What might be shown to you if you ask yourself, “What really happened today?” Not the events, not the list of accomplishments, but those moments of inner movement or outer action that mattered to someone’s heart and wellbeing – yours or another’s?

What really happened today?




Photo Credit: Aaron Burden

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