In December, Broad Streeter Barb Lucks emailed me a Washington Post article. In The Dog’s Wet and Life is Wonderful, columnist Donna Britt writes that she’s learning to appreciate normal days, to savor “their magnificent mediocrity.”
Most of life is normal days, so to be in love with them is to be in love with life. However much we await their arrival, it can be a long time between epiphanies and perfect vacations, between true-love sightings and our ships coming in.
How true. Especially during these ongoing pandemic days. Britt wrote in 1995, a full 25 years before the pandemic. Nevertheless, she’s on to something.
How many of us pass our lives in anticipation? Of the larger homes, smaller bodies and fattened bank accounts of our dreams; of the losses and disasters of our nightmares? We’re so focused on what we pray will happen or on what we hope never will happen that we’re blind to what is.
What is, for most people, is normal days.
Days when you’re aware of being neither particularly sick nor well. When your relatives, friends and partners waver between buoying you up and sitting on your nerves; when you’re too busy to notice much of anything – except that you’re too busy. Days when people ask, “So what happened today?” and you pause, think and come up with squat.
Those days are worth loving.
Britt goes on to reference what she calls our “culture of complaint.”
The other day, I jumped into a taxi and met Mamoun, a cabdriver who 12 years ago came to the United States from Ethiopia, which was for years torn by war. When I asked what’s most striking about Americans, he smiled.
“People here complain a lot, don’t they?” he said. “I think it’s the freedom.”
Mamoun’s past taught him that wanting things to be better is natural, even necessary. But failing to acknowledge what you have is dumb.
Which leads Britt to reflect on gratitude and how much we take it for granted.
I don’t know when so many of us lost the gift for [gratitude], when it became fashionable to overlook how amazing it is to have food on the table, family members who love you, friends who make you laugh when you need to. When we stopped understanding that whether our breakneck lives have us breathing too fast, or our stagnation has us sucking air in slow motion, it is a blessing to be breathing at all.
The best reason to treasure normal days is that when they’re gone, they’re exactly what you wish you had back.
Britt’s words speak to where so many of us are now. I miss those pre-pandemic ‘normal’ days, when my spouse and I could go to a movie theatre and munch on popcorn without masks. I miss those ‘normal’ days when socializing didn’t involve mitigating worry about exposure and transmission. I imagine you do, too.
These days, we’re weary with living in a new normal that keeps changing, asking us to adapt and flex, constantly.
Britt closes with a blessing, a prayer she found in a favorite book. It fit in 1995. I think it still fits today. You make the call.
Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you… Let me not pass by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow…and want, more than all the world, your return.
Even in a pandemic, maybe especially in a pandemic, today is a wonderful, normal day.
These days, what makes for a normal day for you?
-Written by Rev. Ann Palmerton
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