Today is shaping up to be rather ordinary. You know, just the ordinary, regular, non-exciting stuff that tends to fill our days? There’s laundry, cooking, cleaning, errands, school, blog…stuff. It becomes the background “hummmmmm” to our days as we plod through each task without really thinking about it because it’s so normal. Like the way that we run from errand to errand or take our kids to each of their activities, often not even fully aware of how we get from point A to point B. Have you ever done that? Have you ever gotten into the car and been so lost in your thoughts or the “hummmmmm” of your day that you don’t remember actually driving the car? You just looked up and you were there? I have, many times. Every time that happens it kinda scares me, that I could be so wrapped up in my own head that I didn’t pay any attention while I was driving through town. The truth is that I drive that same route to ballet or swimming or gymnastics or wherever so often that I don’t really need to pay attention to where I’m going. Well, that is until I make the wrong turn and end up at the grocery store instead of the dance studio. That’s happened, too.
It’s days like today when I need to remind myself how grateful I am for days just like this. I am grateful for normal. That familiar “hummmmmm” means that things are moving along. It’s all good. Sure, there are things that I would like to tweak here and there, but over all normal is good. Maybe not exciting, but not tragic, not stressful, not urgent. It’s too bad that we usually take note of these days after we’ve been through a rough time in our life. Even worse, it’s too bad that some of us never appreciate what may be small, but good in our lives. There is always something to give us joy, sometimes we just have to look for it.
When my son was young he was very sick. It took doctors about a year to finally come up with a diagnosis, but in that time he was fading right before my eyes. He was malnourished, emaciated and in constant discomfort. I alternated between depression, fear and bitterness. On one particular afternoon, as I was leaving work, I got into my car and cried. Silent tears that I had been holding in just so that I could function and focus on what needed to be done, both at work and at home with my son. “Why me?” I asked out loud. “Why is this happening to me? Why again?” Again because he was born with a hole in his heart and had open heart surgery at 4-months-old. We were no strangers to hospitals. In fact, hospitals started to feel like a second home. But, on this particular day I found it hard to hold it all in and keep going. No sooner than I started to question than I knew that what I should have been asking was “Why not me?” There is nothing so special about me that I should reasonably expect to be exempt from hardships. Everyone has them, some more than others, but no one can escape. It occurred to me that somewhere there was a mother grieving the loss of a son who was shot while walking to school. Or, maybe, her boy was out driving with friends when their car was struck by a drunk driver. That, to me, would be much worse than what I was living. Those scenarios were just senseless, but what was happening to my boy was, well…life. It just happens. It was in that moment that I decided to put on my big girl undies and find joy. My parents and siblings were unbelievably supportive, my son ended up at one of the best hospitals for his condition in the country and I had a good job that allowed me to continue paying my mortgage. For all of this and more, I was grateful. Many hospitalizations and surgeries later, I am still grateful. The danger in not finding joy is that anger, bitterness and fear can consume you and it’s stifling. It doesn’t allow for any growth or healing, just misery. I’ve never wanted to stand still and wallow in self-pity. I’d rather wrap myself in joy no matter how hard I have to search for it.
So, on this very ordinary day, when there’s plenty to get done, but nothing too big and too urgent, I have been reminded to remain joyful. On my way home from walking my girls to school, I saw a little girl skipping to school. I mean she was almost galloping because her skips were so big and bouncy. Her bright pink tennis shoes were moving along and her ponytail was swinging happily behind her, all topped off by her huge smile! Her heart over flowed with joy! She radiated joy! It consumed her and she was beautiful! And it was contagious because I’ve been smiling ever since while counting all things as joy…even laundry.