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Learning to Enjoy the Extraordinary in the Seemingly Ordinary

You’ve enjoyed some great days. I certainly have. Probably most in the Simily world and beyond have as well.

In no particular order — and not a complete list by any means — my great-day tally includes: seeing Queen perform, with a girl I was mad about at the time; holding my just-born son for the first time; watching that same boy take his first steps; all the days spent during a 100-day European journey as a 23-year-old; getting accepted to medical school; graduating from med school; boogie boarding for the first time in Hanalei Bay, Kauai; watching a band I managed open for Van Halen; and many more.

But most of my days are not that grand. Most days — a lot like most of you I suspect — I roll out of bed, eat breakfast, fool around on the computer for a bit, get ready for the day, run some errands or do something I’ve done many times before (hike, bike, swim, whatever), eat a couple more meals, write something not-so-extraordinary, watch TV, get sleepy and sleep. Kind of the lather-rinse-repeat cycle of life. Common as toast.

Oh … and if it’s a workday, I work.

Pause though, rewind and replay. Did we miss something important here? Is the routine different when seen through a different lens?

Rolling Out Of Bed

It’s likely that most of us have nice beds, some may be all fixed up with colorful linens, comforters and lots of pillows. Your bedroom probably doesn’t look like the presidential suite at the Four Seasons, but it doesn’t need to. I’m living in a simple two-bedroom house at the moment. It’s damn fine, everything it needs to be to keep me happy.

Also, most mornings we “roll” out bed. We’re not jolted awake by gunfire blasts. No one has crept into our sanctuary and clapped a hand over our mouths, startling us from dream state to nightmare. We start our days at peace, almost every comfortable day.

Breakfast

There’s food in the refrigerator nearly every morning just tempting us to break “fast.” We’ve likely endured that “fast” for perhaps eight hours, max. Then we’re free to indulge — bacon and eggs, steaming hot coffee with fresh milk, toast, cereal, fruit and on and on, almost endlessly. If we desire, we can go to a place where a small team will prepare our day’s first meal, a meal of our choosing, and deliver it to us. Our server will provide service with a smile and clean up when we’re done. A waitress friend of mine loves going out to eat. She claims that delivered food just tastes better. It’s all so easy; and if we make good choices, good for us.

I try to make my first coffee of the day special, and especially quiet. No news, no texting, no app fiddling, just coffee and quiet, my take on meditation and gratitude.

Computer Fooling Around

(or whatever your morning routine is) You get to have a morning routine. In the same way that we’re generally not shocked into wakefulness, we’re not forced to confront the day before we’re ready for it, mostly. Sure, we may be on a schedule many days but it’s not often frenetic or dangerous or abrupt. We ease into our mornings. With a little planning, that’s true even on workdays. We’re in control of our lives. Within some reasonable limits, we have the power to choose how our days start (and often how they run much of the time). That internal locus of control is glorious.

Getting Ready

As much nearly-free hot water as you want, every morning, in a room specially designed for getting oneself primped, primed and proper. AYFKM!? Enough said.

Errands/Activities

Again, the concept of choice, the power of self-determination. We are the masters of our fate. Sometimes, if you want to take the long scenic way to your destination or stop and shop or stroll in the park, you can. You just can. Even if your activities are routine, they are your activities. No one is telling you what to do and how to do it, minute by minute. There’s an element of luxurious leisure in that. If you focus, you can be single-minded and at peace during these seemingly routine daily activities. When I shop for groceries, I just shop for groceries. I’m not thinking about what’s next or next after that. I wander about the store and see what falls into my cart, no list, no agenda, simply picking and choosing. If I forget something, what’s the downside? The same store and dozens like it will be open tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that. Similarly, when hiking or biking or best of all, boogie boarding, I relinquish all else to the moment. When there are walls of water crashing about you and you’re in it for fun, it’s best to be attentive. Great rides (and staying afloat) are the result.

More Eating

(as above under the heading “Breakfast”) We’re surrounded by plenty. If we make wise choices, and we can, the food we eat is life-sustaining, nourishing. Added benefit — meals can be communal, so commune. That’s life sustaining and nourishing too.

Writing (etc.)

We get to write! We have that freedom, that desire, that ability. We also have the time to do it. I understand fully that some are trying to make a living writing. That’s a different activity. Most of us can simply indulge in the pleasures of writing. If our writing goes somewhere interesting or garners widespread attention or generates some income, then perhaps so much the finer. The same is true for many of our activities, minus the income generation. We can fence or run or sing or dance or take photographs or bird watch or whatever. We have that opportunity, that freedom, that luxury. We’re not trying to make those passions pay off in dollars. They’re purely for our pleasure.

Smile and enjoy! Do the same every single time you get to do the things that bring you joy.

TV (and Technology)

Really! Every single movie, every show, all the time, just by clicking a few buttons. All from the comfort of our sofas, chairs, beds, airplane seats, pretty much anywhere. Remarkable! True too for every bit of human knowledge at our fingertips 24/7 via computer. We can reach out and communicate in unprecedented ways, also 24/7, via our mini-computers, AKA phones. Again, remarkable. We’re swimming in a warm sea of helpful tech that entertains, educates, allows communication, sharing and connection. Common, but certainly not ordinary.

Work

It has been said that “work” is just a four-letter word. Who hasn’t replied “living the dream” when asked “How’s it going?” while at work? Often we force those words past a sardonic grin or a frown or worse. But, we get to work. Some don’t have to work but choose to do so because their work brings them satisfaction or delight or a sense of community or fulfillment. Even if you’re not one of those fortunate individuals, you (mostly) get to work. You have that opportunity, to support yourself and your family, to make a contribution, to provide value with your labors, mental and physical. If you’re lucky, maybe you lead or create or supply essential goods and services or realize self-actualization either partially or fully through work. Luxuriate in that or consider how you might.

Further Thoughts

William Arthur Ward famously gifted “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

These words are attributed to Mother Teresa. “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”

My version of her message — see the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary.

Live that, rather than settle for the routine.

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