When Reality Intervenes: Life Beyond The Ordinary

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]

  • http://twitter.com/inspirationalbl Millie

    It is so true. We want to escape from our every day routines and go to the “Land of Oz” but just like Dorothy said “There is no place like home!” I enjoyed your post very much. God bless you and yours!

    • pastordt

      Thanks, Millie – Dorothy was onto something, I think!

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    I love this, Diana! I’m so glad you’re writing at Prodigal.

    I’m reading this on a lazy Saturday morning. I went to the library to return some books and pick up a few new ones. I’m sipping Irish Breakfast tea and reading the newspaper, catching up on email, and so on. I signed up for a CSA again and dreaming about what I’ll be cooking this summer. Ordinary, simple pleasures that are soul-filling. That’s what I need this weekend.

    • pastordt

      Amen, Leigh. That’s my kinda weekend. Enjoy. . .

  • Carol J. Garvin

    I can SO relate, Diana! I’m a homebody and major loner. I adapted to our public life in ministry, and later to the people-filled professional dog show business that was an endeavour of my own choosing. But retirement has reminded me how much I value both my privacy and my quiet time. My hubby and I have always had an RV and love “getting away from it all”, and yet coming home is instant comfort. We each have our spaces here, where we do the things we enjoy, and then come together for meals and evenings by the fireplace, reading or watching television. Recently our week was shaken up with a health issue, and now I’m appreciating even more the ordinariness of comfortable days together.

    • pastordt

      So sorry to read about a health issue for you and your husband, Carol! Been there, don’t like it much. But yes, learning to be comfortable with your own space, your own self is a huge part of this process of growing up, isn’t it? And it takes a whole lifetime to do it, too.

  • Linda Thomas

    I had to smile, Diana, when I read your post. You could have been describing my husband and me and all of our comfortable day-in-and-day-out routines. We poke fun at each other but really, there is a lot of comfort and stability and deep joy in them. Other people see us as old, but we don’t feel old. We are enjoying God’s many blessings, just like you and your husband are. Thanks for the pleasant, sweet read, Diana.
    Linda

    • pastordt

      I actually know quite a few people who would be considered ‘young’ by anyone’s standard who feel the same way. Ordinary doesn’t get enough press in my book. It’s a very good thing to love your life, to sit in the quiet, to walk in the woods (or around your driveway, like I do) and to listen for the soft whisper of the Spirit. For ordinary, that’s pretty dang extraordinary.

  • Nancy Ruegg

    Thank you, Diana, for the reminder that HOME may be an ordinary place, but an extraordinary blessing of peace, comfort, and familiarity. I thank God for my husband of forty-two years, and the fact that entering the door of our house gives rise to a big “A-a-ah” from both of us!

    • pastordt

      I give a great big ‘amen’ to that ‘ahhh’, Nancy. Thanks for stopping by, I truly appreciate it!

  • Paul

    Diana:

    Sounds like my wife and I. I can relate, except when we go out of town, it isn’t to San Diego. It is to midwestern towns like Milbank, SD and Webster City IA. Thanks for validating the ordinary.

    Paul Willingham

    • pastordt

      Thanks, Paul, for coming by and reading. And especially for reminding me that not everyone gets San Diego as a getaway space. :>)

  • http://twitter.com/meganwillome Megan Willome

    I so get this, even though we’re not yet retired. But in a couple of weeks, both of our kids will be gone for spring break. We agreed to both work in the mornings, just like on ordinary days. Then we’ll have lunch and then see. He may take an afternoon bike ride. I may take an afternoon nap. We might both go back to work. We need some together time, but we need to maintain our separate time, too. And that will be our vacation.

    • pastordt

      That sounds lovely, Megan. And a lot like our life in retirement, actually. Which is now temporarily on hold as I’m back at work for a few months. But the hours are low and there is still room for the loveliness of this separate-but-together life we’re building. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.