Sometimes, at dinner, I will turn to Kina and ask her what she thinks of her meal. She will think carefully and look at the ceiling, then hold up her thumb and forefinger at an eighty degree angle and mumble “Check!” through a mouth full of food. At other times, when confronting a piece of fish, say, she will screw up her face and cross her fingers in front of her face. “X!” she declares, predictably, regarding the fish. “Check!” to Japanese snacks. “X!” to combing her hair. “Check!” to riding my bike to school. “X!” to J.S. Bach’s Partitas for Keyboard.
It is easy to be a citizen of the world when life is check and X, black and white. No regret-tinged indulgence, no Schadenfreude, nothing bittersweet. Everything is either amazing or intolerable.
I think I am slightly less obsessed with the clarity of Kina’s world view, though, and more fascinated by how much of her life is “Check!” I don’t know about all of you, but there’s a pretty sharp bias in my life these days to “X!” and this whole categorization exercise that Kina is on about has me looking for the “Check!” in my day. It is, I will admit, a little hard to pull off, but in an effort to hold myself accountable in this moment of vulnerability, I will now list four “Check!” items from the last day (not including the two obvious and astonishing “Check!” human beings in my apartment right now):
The easygoing doctor who complimented my sweatshirt while examining my ears
A former colleague telling me about her impending move to Paris and her exciting new career
A double chocolate cookie with really crisp edges from the cafe that recently opened around the corner from me
A line of kids outside Kina’s school, waiting eagerly for their vaccines
May you find your own “Check!” from the last few days, and dwell on it with the same conviction that Kina does hers. If it makes you feel better, reply to this and share it with me, and I’ll keep it safe for you.