We are the curators of our own contentment, but sometimes we don’t appreciate the contentment we find in the ordinary until we are faced with something unexpected, difficult, or challenging. It can be anything from a close call in a car or airplane, financial struggles, a career change, or a serious illness. It’s anything that wakes us up to the pleasure and wonder of ordinary days.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer opened my eyes to the delight possible in the details of a day, especially during the times when I could not take care of myself. I slowly had to work my way back to independence, and along the way I learned some valuable lessons. There was a lot of recovery time needed with multiple surgeries, which meant more than the usual time at home. Necessity gave me the gift of slowness, which heightened my awareness of everything going on around me. And I celebrated every little bit of independence that each day brought, even if it was only going to the bathroom by myself (ordinary, yes, but a big deal after surgery because that function was taken for granted). So many other functions had been taken for granted as well.
The ordinary daily sounds and activities had always been present, but now I was in a spirit of gratitude paying close attention. There was pleasure in hearing the tea kettle whistle, seeing the brilliant colors of fruits and vegetables being chopped in the kitchen, the fragrance of homemade soup, the rustle of book pages while reading in bed, the texture of a soft afghan, a glass of cold water on my night table, the feel of clean sheets on the bed, or the hum of the washing machine taking care of the laundry. Rick Field says, “When we pay attention, whatever we’re doing – whether it be cooking, cleaning, or making love – is transformed……We begin to notice details and textures that we never noticed before; everyday life becomes clearer, sharper, and at the same time more spacious.” From this perspective little things begin to mean a lot and we engage more deeply with the present moment.
Mary Jean Iron invites us to revel in the ordinary with this thought. “Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you 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 into a pillow, or stretch myself taught, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.”
The idea is to appreciate and embrace the ordinary without having a crisis, so living in awareness becomes the norm. I don’t want to be sick in order to be observant. Today let’s identify more of those joyful simplicities that offer a deep sense of personal comfort, because our sense of well-being is the highest priority. No matter where you are in your healing journey, discovering your own small delights will bring you peace and pleasure, and who of us can’t use a little more of that? Let’s get specific as we practice our awareness and share some of our favorite small delights in the comment section. We can pass around the joy and embrace the ordinary together.
Until Next Time – Sylvia