Tuesday, October 4, 2016
The Power of Ordinary Days
I'm likely to treat important days with a bit of trepidation. It always seems like so much is riding on them. We want Christmas to be special because, who wants to ruin any of their kids' holiday memories? On my daughter's wedding day I was a wreck because it was the one day in her life that came with the built in pressure of perfection.
I'm not an event person.
I am however a big fan of an ordinary Thursday. But we don't gauge our life achievements by regular ole Mondays. We tend to think of the weddings, births, graduations, spectacular vacations.
This is where we get the value of our life and our ability to become the people we want to be, wrong.
How often do you ask yourself what you can do to make someone's birthday or anniversary special? Now ask yourself when was the last time you thought "Oh, yay! Tuesday!" How many times have you and your spouse thought that if you could just get away on vacation and spend some time together, it would help?
Okay, full disclosure: I always think travel helps everything.
Here's the deal: there's nothing wrong with wanting to make special days and events fun and meaningful. The problem with our focus on them is that there aren't enough of them to make up a life. If you want to create the life you dream of you have to focus on the ordinary days.
From the birth of a child to the time they reach 18 there are roughly 7,000 days. How many of those are Christmas, birthdays, and family vacations? Not many. Eighteen Christmases. Eighteen birthdays. A few family vacations. Most of the days are school, homework, hanging around the kitchen while you make dinner, soccer practice, and asking if they can have a puppy. And looking for one shoe.
How much time did we spend looking for one shoe?
I recently had a conversation with my son who is twenty-five about his childhood. He told me how happy it was. My mind went to Christmas mornings and a trip to Disney World. But then he described how much he appreciated that I had let him drag a bunch of junk home from the neighbor's trash pile and build a skateboard ramp against a tree by the driveway. "I know that it must have driven you crazy to have that trashy looking thing in front of the house but man, I had a blast with that. Thanks."
Note to parents: If you still have kids at home and wonder if you are doing anything right, hang in there. You probably are greatly underestimating the amazing job you are doing.
Do you think for one moment if you had asked me about my son's childhood it would have been that memory that came to me? The days that we feel are ordinary or boring may not be that at all to the people we care about.
It's on our kids' ordinary days that we instill character, teach lessons, and let them know they are loved. It's the ordinary day at work when you are forging your reputation. It's the mundane moments when a marriage is maintained.
If you want to grasp the value of an ordinary day think of a time when you've had a tragic day and remember how you longed for things to be as they were before, when they were ordinary.
It's great to have special days to look forward and we certainly need those. Sometimes they are the things that can keep us going through a tough time. But let's learn to focus on today and tomorrow. Let's be present in this moment. Now. Let's stop waiting for some magical time in the future when we'll have the perfect day and make today a day worthy of reflecting on.
Starting tomorrow we are going to talk about how to fill those ordinary days.
See you then!