Yesterday morning I sat outside enjoying a good book in my worn, blue outdoor chair with a small hole beginning to break through the seat, setting my coffee cup down on a makeshift end table I put together of cinderblocks and a piece of wood. I mean, it works, but it certainly isn’t the marble top end table I willingly gave up for this. I chuckled a bit at myself, and how this same girl who genuinely adores a well decorated home, manicures, message appointments and fancy dinners could possibly find so much joy and peace smack dab in the midst of such an ordinary, simple life. Every now and then I catch myself in moment in which I am both surprised and amused at how uncomplicated yet basic our whole lives became the moment we made the decision to stop trying to live just like everyone around us in order to be happy or live validated lives.
Over the past year, our lives have been on a steady progression towards a more basic way of doing life. We pretty much don’t rely on any kind of medical intervention except in rare cases of emergency, we’ve traded the kid’s game systems for board games, their iPods for books and our big brick house for a tiny one that feels more like a home than ever before.
One would think it would have been easier to stay put in our comfortable house and our comfortable life than to let everything go to head out on this new way of life. In fact, one question we get asked all the time is, “How do you handle moving around from place to place and not actually having the stability of a normal home life.” And my answer is always, “I’m sure this kind of life isn’t for everyone as some people really do feel they need the predictability of a more normal routine with a normal schedule and the same place to drive home to at night. However, I actually very much enjoy the change, the excitement, the spontaneity that traveling from place to place affords. But truly, most of it is what we make of it.”
Last year, we made our home in five different towns in three different states. And we had such amazing times enjoying the newness and uniqueness of every new place. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about all the places we went and the different people we encountered along the way.
More recently there hasn’t been any exciting travel news as we’ve been parked in one cozy spot for the past four and a half months now. As I’ve stated before, although we do have some degree of choice, mostly my husband’s work dictates where and when we pack up and move on to the next place! And so because of the longevity of my husband’s job contract at our current location, we are beginning to settle into the notion that we may be here quite a bit longer than we had initially expected.
Let’s be honest, traveling around from state to state sounds a heck of a lot more glamorous than living in an RV park in a camper. And while a part of me misses the allure and excitement of life out on the open road, always moving about from place to place, oddly enough I am also completely at peace with slower, less exciting, maybe even much less glamorous times.
Because all of life is about seasons. And no season ever lasts forever, nor should it.
The thing about life is that as wonderful as thrills and excitement and the next new thing can seem, all that shimmers and sparkles is only a small fraction of the true human story. The truth is, as much as social media and blogs would have us believe that everybody is living their own fairytale of sorts, most of life is made up of the mundane.
And no matter how wonderful or not so wonderful our lives may feel at any given time, no one really gets to escape the reality that most of life is pretty dang ordinary. Just like you, we are here. Doing all of the things that make up a life in an endless cycle of monotonous duties. Laundry, dishes (sometimes 3 times day in my tiny camper sink) school, work, grocery shopping, cooking meals, trying not to screw our kids up…..and laundry. Ohhhh the glamour. Yeah, be envious of THAT.
And yet somehow smack dab in the midst of the ordinary, there is richness and deep joy to be found. I figure, since so much of life truly is mundane, maybe instead of mourning that fact, trying to change it or feeling resentful at another mom’s dreamy, magazine worthy social media feed, we should find the goodness in all of the ordinariness of our day to day lives.
Truthfully, I had never imagined I could be content with being so simple. I never imagined that I could genuinely find fulfillment in explaining math problems to my nine and a half year old and watching her get it, writing out spelling words for my eight year old, returning library books several times a week and driving my daughter to ride her horse almost everyday.
Maybe we have been far too consumed with why we are or aren’t happy with our lives. Because the truth is, the circumstances of our lives have little to do with our happiness level. Maybe the joy is found in our perspective.
What I could see when I look at my life is that I live in a 300 sq. foot camper which is even worst than living in the single wide I swore I would never live in, that I am burdened down with the responsibility of my children ALL day, and that I am sacrificing my own personal fulfillment and dreams for the benefit of everyone but myself and that my life has no real purpose.
But what I choose to see when I look at my life is that what I live in affords me abundant opportunities and financial freedom that I wouldn’t have ever had otherwise, that I am monumentally blessed to have my children with me to love and be loved by them, that I have the ability and the mind to educate them myself and that anytime we give our lives away for the sake of another we have found the deepest kind of purpose there ever was to be found.
So when we are tempted to dwell on, or maybe even feel sorry for ourselves and the mundaneness of our everyday lives, maybe it isn’t our lives that are the problem at all – maybe the real issue is in our perspective.
Instead of chasing happiness, maybe we should be chasing perspective. I have found that the surest way to find deep joy in the mundane of the laundry and the dish soap and the cooking of the evening meals is to imagine what life would be like without those things. I am convinced that the only way to be happy is to be content. Content with the life we have right now, not tomorrow or next year or when things get better. And being content is a purposeful decision, not one dependent on how perfect the external circumstances of our lives are.
Maybe when some see the leaves begin to turn brown and fall to the ground to get trampled on and crushed by passers by, all they see is the death of life that once was…..but I see potential for leaf piles all made for diving head first in, brisk morning walks, cool evenings together around a warm, glowing campfire, holiday cheer with family and the birth of a new season that holds everything good that makes life worth living. What some might see as a death, I see as the birth canal to an even better life.
So you see, one life is not really better than another. Most of the goodness of life is all in our perspective.
When you look over your life as a whole, what do you feel and see? Maybe you see all that is good….even in the ordinary. And if not…..maybe it’s just time to stop and take a better look.