So much of life is just plain ordinary. Day in, day out — do the tasks at hand, follow the routine, learn to maneuver the ins and outs of relationships, see to the commitments on the calendar, slide in a little bit of self-care. Yeah, just keep on walking, one foot in front of the other.
That’s why a change in the ordinary can feel like a welcome reprieve, opening the windows of the soul to let the good fresh air of the unplanned blow things around a bit. A change in scenery can do wonders for those ordinary-blues.
Unless, of course, it doesn’t.
We’ve gotten very used to our current state of ordinary. We’re both ‘retired,’ though busy with lots of different commitments and activities. We’ve got the daily routine thing nailed – each of us in separate areas of our home, pursuing our individual commitments, coming together for dinner and bits of conversation throughout the day. After a dozen years of living apart for a piece of each week, this is how we’ve been learning to do life together 24/7.
And it’s a good, rich life.
We were looking forward to some time away from this good, rich life last week, heading 200 miles south to a large hotel and convention center. Yes, there would be meetings involved. And yes, a lot of the time would be scheduled for us. But it was a different place, a different schedule, different people around us. Just what the doctor ordered, right?
Well, not exactly. We were in one room now. A nice room, with its own small balcony, well-stocked with breakfast and lunch foods I had carefully packed and dragged along. And there was a television and a wingback chair with an ottoman, what seemed like plenty of floor space —
Even two sinks in the bathroom.
My husband’s board meetings came first, so he was gone for most of the first two days. Great! Got some writing done, took a good walk. Enjoyed dinner with his entire group that night. Next came two days that were pretty much unscheduled, NO meetings. Maybe we could explore the city? Go to a movie? Walk across the river to the mall?
Well. . . the walk to the mall we managed, for dinner the first night. And then he got the mother of all colds – head full of gunk, feeling fatigued and apathetic. You know the drill — heavy head colds are no fun. So, we stayed in, hoping that rest and lots of fluids would ease his congestion and restore his energy
No such luck. And I felt sorry for him, truly, I did.
But, it was one room. One.Room.
And the television was on, a lot. To the business channel or ESPN. So I headed to the balcony, to read and try to write. Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in and our sunny San Diego week became overcast and quite cold. The balcony no longer seemed quite so welcoming.
And then my own meetings began. And here’s what I realized: my days as an avid conference attendee are far behind me. Far. I’ve learned to like silence a lot, to prefer one-on-one conversations to large gatherings of people with amplified music. So after two days of a five-day event, I came back from a breakfast meeting I missed because I wrote down the wrong time, looked at my nose-blowing husband and said,
“I think maybe we should get outta Dodge. What do you think?”
He quickly agreed and we were packed and loaded in record time. We took the coastal route back to our home, stopping for lunch in Malibu, arriving in time to unpack and collapse into familiar surroundings with a sense of deep gratitude.
So, I’m sitting here with my computer on my lap, he’s in the back room at his computer. We’ll have lunch in a few minutes, maybe go to the grocery store, do a little errand-running. Very ordinary stuff.
And I love it.
We’ve got other trips planned this year, trips we’re looking forward to a lot. And it will be delightful to see new places, meet new people, change up the routine. But always, always we’ll come home to this — this ordinary, day-in and day-out life. The one we’ve grown into over time, the one we’ve built together, the one God has called and equipped us to live now.
Come to think of it, there’s nothing particularly ordinary about that at all.
What about you? Does your life seem ordinary? In what ways is it full and satisfying at the same time?
[photo: Quiltsalad, Creative Commons]