We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. At birth we were awakened and emerged to become visible in the world. At death we will surrender again to the dark to become invisible. Awakening and surrender: they frame each day and each life; between them the journey where anything can happen, the beauty and the frailty. – John O’Donohue, Embracing the Beauty
A love for the ordinary – wake in the morning and surrender to sleep. So ordinary. It’s the in-between where we find “the beauty and the frailty.”
Recently I was asked this question:
What does an ordinary day look like for you?
I love ordinary days. I have had enough big extraordinary events to last me a lifetime but an ordinary day for me is probably different than your ordinary day.
When I look at the origin of the word ordinary, I find “belonging to the usual order or course,” and “customary, regular, usual, orderly.” When something belongs to the usual order of things.
I asked my kids about what they thought of this word “ordinary” and how it applied to their life.
One child said, “Mama, the moment you had five kids, our lives were never going to be ordinary.”
Another said, “Yes and that we are homeschooled.”
And the last, “And being in Costa Rica in a container home off-grid!”
Our life is a string of extraordinary days then because for them, ordinary means being normal and conventional.
So I ask them a different question: “What is an ordinary day for you?” The true meaning of the word ofordinaryis simply what you are accustomed to.
When we took inventory of our ordinary days, we saw these repeating customs:
- Wake up without alarm clock
- Coffee (Chris and I have had our morning coffee together for the last 13 years before the children wake up)
- Greet the animals
- Slow mornings at home where everyone has a chance to write, read, draw, plan, work on independent projects
- Ice cream at their favourite place
- Breakfast/Dinner together
- Outside most of the day until bedtime (easy to do because our living room is outdoors)
- Hang out before bedtime to talk about the day
- Car rides with good beats and dancing
- Between 10:00am-600pm anything goes: home, beach, Morpho, friends’ houses, cafes, classes, workshops, meetings, and this may all depend on weather
With the last point, we always have a general plan for the day and week but things can change if we don’t have solid commitments. Life is so weather dependent here. Rain can change any beach day plan or drying the perpetual damp of everything. Last minute invites are the norm. A quick dash to buy a coffee can turn into a half hour conversation. And Mother Nature has her own idea of ordinary – a windstorm can take down a tree that blocks our road or the bridge washes out.
For example, the kids ask if we are going to the beach tomorrow or if we are staying home or need to go to town. I give them my customary response:
I don’t know. Maybe. Ask me tomorrow.
It’s great. Now they rarely ask that type of question. (But I still get this question, “What day is it again? Is it the weekend?” Ah, homeschooled kids.)
I love our ordinary days. We are starting Day 2 of our ordinary days again after three weeks of travel. The ordinary day is like an old friend that you can slip into conversation easily and is low maintenance. It is a security blanket that gives me comfort when things go off-kilter and the rhythm is out of whack.
Travel can do that. It’s like going off-roading. The packing, the unpacking. I love the high of connecting with people and going places and seeing things. The bumps in the road and moving this way and that but the older I get, I notice that I want more ordinary. I want the steady path lined with the ingredients of my Goldilocks Conditions: five kids, homeschooling, off-grid in Costa Rica, and coffee in the morning with the love of my life.
- What does an ordinary day look like for you? Draw a visual graph or pie chart of this day?
- What are you accustomed to? What has been customary?
- Define ordinary versus extraordinary.
- Copy the quote above.