The ordinary is extraordinary
~ Author unknown
August 4, 2015
Today was an ordinary day. I arose, did my usual morning routine of breakfast and perusing the paper, and sat in a favourite chair to savour a coffee. That first sip of morning coffee is always the best! I love that time of solitude before Richard awakens and the house is quiet. I looked out to see the sky and trees in our backyard – currently the only bit of greenery in the back of our house where there is not one blade of grass. The patch that was our lawn is hard brown dirt due to home renovations, which are thankfully close to completion.
Today I made it to the pool at Ryerson before starting work. Incredibly the water temperature was perfect; there was no music blaring (the life guard’s antidote to boredom) and I was the only one in the pool. Bonus!
Then to the office. This time of year, there are not many students around and the halls are quiet. Work involved a number of things to get done but no crises or urgent deadlines. Work in our office is punctuated by a mindfulness bell that goes off hourly. It provides either a welcome respite from a tedious task or an irritating interruption to a focused activity. My work colleague and I stretch nonetheless and resume work. At the end of the day I returned home dismayed by yet another delay on the subway but grateful Richard had started supper.
I recall reading some time ago in one of Steven Covey’s books, about a young mother facing a life threatening illness and saying to her friend that she would give anything to be changing a soiled diaper than be where she was now. We sometimes forget how precious those everyday moments are, perhaps because they happen every day. It is easy to take for granted the routines in our lives – to view them as humdrum. Something we do so without hardly an awareness of what has transpired. For example, we forget – I certainly do – the feel of warm slippery soapy water while washing the evening dishes or the softness of the bed sheets. I too easily get caught up in a series of random thoughts that have no apparent connection as I go about my daily business. I have been known to be many places in my mind while in the shower or jostling for space on the subway.
The routines of our lives are like a comfortable shoe that we slip into without noticing. The things we do to get to the important stuff. And such routines impart a sense of order when life becomes tumultuous. But if we are not careful, two things can happen: 1) the routines and activities of ordinary days can become cemented, preventing us from stepping outside our comfort zone, resulting in a life that is ordered (safe) but shrinking in possibilities and serendipity; and 2) we miss the joy of the so-called small things such as the pattern of clouds, the succulence of a juicy peach, and the wonder in being able to live and move and have our being.
Many of the memories I cherish are not the extraordinary ones – as great as those are. The ones that come to mind are someone calling hello; nursing a baby; watching my sons play road hockey; being immersed in a book; a conversation in which someone listened; laughing at a funny moment; a family meal; and the memory of someone we hold dear sitting in their usual chair. The scenes are etched in my brain. And I am wistful for the many I have forgotten but are part of a broader tapestry.
It is a reminder of the wonder of extraordinary ordinary days. Let us jump for joy!