There are times, when I sit down to write a new blog post, that I know exactly what I want to write about. I may still need to flesh out the details but the basic idea is already with me.
There are other times, when I have absolutely no idea what I want to write about. Today was one of those days.
Fortunately, before I tortured myself trying to come up with an idea, I glanced at Facebook.
And I noticed that a friend had posted a poem.
And when I read the poem, I knew I wanted to share it and write about it.
Make The Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and animals die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself!
–William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents
Although the poem is about teaching children to value the ordinary, in my opinion, the advice applies equally to all of us.
Much of our unhappiness stems from thinking that life should somehow be better, be different, be more extraordinary.
We feel jealousy towards other people because we think their life is somehow more extraordinary than ours.
We want lives that we don’t have, rather than valuing the life that we do have.
I remember last year, I was working on a government contract.
The initial conference call for the project involved many former co-workers of mine.
They had heard rumors that I was now living in Bogota, Colombia.
And when I confirmed those rumors, I heard audible gasps on the phone.
Some people commented that they were jealous of me.
What they didn’t know is how truly ordinary my life is. Maybe living in a different country sounds exotic, sounds extraordinary, but at least for me it’s not.
My life is filled with ordinary moments.
So here we are.
With ordinary moment, after ordinary moment, after ordinary moments.
Moments that we can and should embrace.
That, then is my advice for today. Build your life out of ordinary moments.
Let them come alive! And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that the extraordinary takes care of itself!