So many people I know are tired at the moment; tired in their spirit and tired in their bodies. I think it is the years of the coronavirus, with maybe a bit of social media thrown in. The news and the arguments seem to come thicker and harder and faster and madder than they once did. A lot of my writers are struggling, because it’s hard to access the wild spaces of your imagination when your amygdala is on a hair-trigger.

And I keep thinking: what do we do about this, all of us tired humans?

Write down the joy, comes the answer. At which point the cynical gremlins in my head start laughing their head off and accuse me of being an absurd Pollyanna.

But I come back always to balance. If you can find one moment of joy in each day, and you can record that, you are building a sea wall against the storms.

I am tired tonight, so that it feels as if I’m worn out, but the moment I start to type and I think of the moments of joy, I discover a whole, lovely list. They are things that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, but they meant a lot to me. I stood in a field full of thoroughbreds and looked at the Scottish hills. I had one of those fond, easy chats with two people I work with. I helped a friend who needed to process an emotion. (We do this for each other. It’s gloriously efficient. At the end of the conversation, she said, ‘Thank you. That helped.’ That’s pretty much all I need, for a day to be worth it.) 

I talked to a very, very old friend and we picked up all the threads of history between us and that reminded me of the comforting, spreading circle of fondness that can only exist between people who have known each other for twenty-five years.

The red mare was funny and happy and beautiful and Florence was brilliant and my posse made me laugh and the Scottish light when I walked home from the field was so glimmering and gleaming and filled with colours there are no words for that I stopped at stared for a while and thought how stupidly lucky I am.

Also, I made some excellent split pea soup for supper and felt consoled. Soup always consoles me.

It doesn’t mean that there weren’t some gnarly bits. I’m a bit behind with things and I’ve lost a vital document and I am, as always, wishing that I knew how to polish my organisational skills. But the day had beauty and funniness and love and meaning in it, and I’m not sure I would have realised that if I hadn’t written it down.

Write your list - of joy, of gratitude, of sheer appreciation in the miracle of being alive. It balances everything else, and that makes all the difference.