Margaret Wise Brown had a practice before she got out of bed each morning.
She looked around her apartment and observed all the things that made her happy.
She made a mental note of each item. Then, when she was up, she committed them all to paper.
She told a friend that this daily practice of gratitude helped combat depression.
It also had a creative element.
One day she woke up and had a vivid idea for a children’s book that came to her in a dream.
She called up her publisher and dicated the words:
In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of
The cow jumping over the moon
And there were three little bears sitting on chairs
The story fit the popular “here and now” style narrative of the time. It encouraged children to be aware of their own senses and observations.
There’s also a dreamlike quality to Brown’s words. The great green room feels like that parallel universe suspended between sleeping and waking.
After waking, Brown remembered her childhood ritual of saying goodnight to the toys and objects in the nursery she shared with her sister.
The cow jumping over the moon and the bears sitting in chairs were images from her own childhood room.
This was how she came up for the idea for Goodnight Moon.
Today, Brown’s story sells more than 800,000 copies a year, and cumulatively has sold more than 48 million copies since it was published.
Her story makes me think about the almost sacred transitional time between waking up and getting up.
Like most people, you could use that time to check your phone and scroll through forgettable notifications.
Or you can use it to say good morning to the sun,
good morning to the air,
good morning to the noises everywhere.