Once upon a time, at a dinner table designed for a family of six, the four members of the Bowen family, Pat, David, Ben and Xander, were sitting down to enjoy the chicken roast David had prepared earlier. The Bowen family had established a ritual many months ago where they would eat their dinner and take it turns telling the family their three favourite events of the day. This exercise, Pat explained, was designed to make sure everyone in the family kept an eye out for something positive during the day, and to make sure the discussions during dinner remained upbeat. Most of the time, the family members chose to mention events such as riding a bike along the river or when they played a board game together earlier in the evening.
After adding the sauces and spices to their dinner, David began mentioning his stand-out moments from the day and, as much as he wanted to, it was not possible for Ben to listen because he was in a state of panic. In preparation for tonight’s conversation, Ben had done the math and concluded that he had precisely 4,126 favourite things about his day. He now had the daunting task of narrowing that number down to three before it was his turn to speak.
Firstly, his pillow had felt exceptionally soft when he woke up and, opening eyes, he noticed the astounding beauty of the beam of light shining through the gap in his curtains. He then became awestruck by the way the light illuminated some of the floating pieces of dust, making them appear to dance in the tiny strip of sunlight. His focus on the light gave him the opportunity to appreciate the dark amber tones of his curtains, precisely measured so that they sat only 1cm from the ground, a detail which Ben couldn’t help but admire. Taking a great deal of pleasure from one of the best stretches he had ever had, Ben convinced himself he could easily choose three things from his already wonderful morning.
Ben’s eagerness to continue looking for his favourite daily experiences grew as he made his way into the living area of the house. His younger brother, Xander, had already woken up by the time Ben came out of his room, and, despite the fact that he was merely sitting and watching cartoons, Ben became overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of his brother smiling contently on the lounge. His mother, Pat, was cooking bacon and eggs, and the aroma nearly sent him into a meditative state. He took the time to appreciate the way the crispy parts of the bacon curled up at the edges as and loved how each piece changed their size and shape the hotter they became. He greeted his mother with a hug and Ben was struck by the way her eyes showed him just how much she loved him.
By lunchtime, Ben had precisely 2,617 events he could potentially refer to as his favourite and he couldn’t fathom how he was possibly going to choose one activity over another or what made some moments more memorable than others in the first place.
From the way the mayonnaise and chicken worked so well together on his sandwich to the way it felt as he squished the sand from his sandpit between his toes, the day continued to present remarkable moment after remarkable moment. With so many options, Ben was nearly ready to ask his mother if dinner could be cancelled tonight, but, of course, they were planning on having one of his favourite meals which only added to his nervousness about what he was going to speak about.
Now at the dinner table, it was Ben’s turn to speak. He quickly replayed all 4,126 memorable events that had brought him happiness throughout his day and, as he looked around the table, his mother noticed the concern on his face. She gestured to let him that he didn’t have to speak if he didn’t want to. Feeling a sense of relief, Ben put down his knife and fork and calmly lifted his hand, pointing first to his mother, then to his father, and then leaning over to gently kiss his brother, Xander, on his forehead.
His mother and father smiled at their son, and, again using their hands, told Ben that he and his brother will always be their favourites as well.
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