Wednesday, June 02, 2010
How can a day be ordinary after that?
We think of our days as commonplace, but we’re mistaken. When we really look closely, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. I clasp my early morning mug of tea in my hands and think of two other hands that held raw clay and shaped it into the cup I now hold. I think of the discoveries that led to firing and glazing; I think beyond the mug to the tea in it. What I drink so often (and so often heedlessly) was once an integral part of a living plant growing somewhere on a hillside a continent away. We are linked by the commonplace. Can we not see that as remarkable?
I have a friend who is hiking the Appalachian Trail for the first time. She’s never pushed herself to walk more that a few miles, never spent more than a few hours totally immersed in natural surroundings, never spent a night in the woods by herself. Now she climbing higher than she’s ever done and the view of her surroundings takes her breath away. “It was there all the time,” she says, but now when she climbs a peak, turns a corner, looks out over vast tracts of unpopulated forest and woodland, “It’s like, WOW!”
We need to do more than just stop and smell the roses. We need to immerse ourselves in moments, recognize our time here for what it is – brief and irretrievable – and celebrate the WOW moments often.
“I can’t,” you say. “I can’t ooh and aahh my way through life. I’d never get anything done.”
But, I say what we do now is only half done if we can’t make the moment count, if it isn’t considered a miracle. What is time but a string of moments, some noticed, some lost in the rush as we hurry to get things done? It doesn’t take much time to listen to a bird sing, to watch leaves rustle in the wind, to feel the warmth of a sunbeam, to join in a child’s laughter. What better thing would you be doing with that fraction of a moment?
I saw a Baltimore Oriole the other day. I haven’t seen one here in years but suddenly, there in the brush at the side of the road was a brilliant orange bird. It lifted into the air and glided across the meadow grasses like a bit of colored glass. “WOW!” I breathed, enchanted. The image lingered for hours, making me draw in my breath and smile each time I thought of it.
All our days are made up of such moments. All of them are WOWs. We just need to pay attention.