Thursday, May 27, 2010

The ordinary is extraordinary: For Lisa, who can't remember Friday

I am often caught up short when I become aware of how extraordinary the ordinary can be. Sometimes it is an afterthought that floats across my consciousness and brings a smile. Sometimes it smacks me upside the head – reality check. Sometimes it makes me want to grab a person by the shoulders and shake them – “Can’t you see?”

Every ordinary day adds up, stacks up, one after the other. Days of work, laundry, cooking, cleaning, caring for the people in our lives – “You’re tired, let me get the coffee” and being cared for in return - “I’ll get the laundry while you finish making dinner”.

A life becomes the sum of these ordinary days. Have you created a great work of art? Saved a life? Changed the world? Yes, yes you have. With every ordinary day filled with the kind of love we take for granted; the quick absent-minded kiss ; the cake that came out lopsided because you were busy changing diapers and making lunch at the same time. Oh how you laughed at that lopsided cake – tasted fine even if it didn’t look so good.

The doors you held for people you didn’t know; the smile and the eye-roll of commiseration for the cashier at the grocery store; all the smiles, good mornings and thank you’s to bus drivers, mailmen, strangers you passed on the street – carelessly tossed their way. You may have changed a life that day, or just made someone’s day a little lighter.

Need I go on? I don’t think so. Y’all know what I’m talking about. We take ourselves and our ordinary lives for granted. We don’t see them for what they really are.

I’m not a star, maybe you’re not either, at least not on the world stage. But in our own ordinary worlds, our own ordinary lives, we shine! And with every ordinary, caring, loving thing we do, whether we know we are doing it or not, we are saving lives, changing the world and creating a great work of art. It’s called life.

So then, let my obituary read: She cooked and cleaned and filed and typed. She loved, and was loved. She smiled; made people laugh. She danced to music only she could hear. She ranted and raged and wept. She was down but never out. Not many knew her name but she lived an extraordinary life.

As do all of you.

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