Five years ago, I read a blog post that has really stuck with me. It was a post written by a Wesleyan College (my alma mater) sister, Ashley Garrett, and was entitled, “Whatever you polish will shine”. In it, Ashley describes her fear about public speaking and how when all she focuses on is her fear, that fear is what shines (and takes over). When describing the image below, Ashley states:
“…I came upon this haunting picture of a Chopin statue. While looking at Chopin’s nose, I thought, “Whatever we polish will shine.” Normally, a bronze statue left out in the weather will take on that beautifully thick green patina that we see on the rest of this statue. But so many hands have reached up to pat, caress or tweak Monsieur Chopin’s nose that the constant polishing keeps it shiny. After a while, the nose leaps out and becomes what we notice about the entire statue. Whatever we polish shines.”
I think back to this blogpost and Ashley’s words often. I’ve used her words as inspiration for sequencing yoga classes and for encouraging students to be aware of their own thought patterns. And, during these last several months of COVID, lockdowns, restrictions, and significant alterations to our holiday gatherings, this phrase, “What you polish will shine” keeps bringing me back to what’s important in my own life. It’s so easy to go down the path of ruminating on the challenges that COVID has brought our way. We are fatigued, likely feeling isolated, missing our loved ones, and feeling related burdens, be they financial, health-related, or other. But, what if we were able to focus on the good? What if we were to think instead of the silver linings? To consider and explore creative ways of connecting? To polish the golden nuggets that undoubtedly exist and allow those moments to shine?
These need not be huge events or wins. Small positive wins and thoughts can accumulate. A simple way to document daily shining moments is to start a gratitude journal where you jot things down daily – things that went well, things that went as expected as opposed to unexpected, things that brought a smile to your face. Shifting our attention to the daily silver linings or golden nuggets can have a positive impact on our mental health, and by extension, our physical health. And, if you don’t quite know what to be grateful for these days, try this:
“Take a chance and openly give thanks, even if you aren’t sure what for, and feel the plenitude of all that is living brush up against your heart.” – Mark Nepo
What you polish will shine. Focus on the good.