There is a small ant colony on our patio, cradled under a big square log. We were planning on cleaning it up. All it took was observing the ants for a good chunk of time one sunny midday. What first got my attention was a group of four carrying a dry piece of cedar. Yes, together like you and three buddies would. They took it all the way to the nest, deposited where they thought it would be most suitable and then took of in search of the next treasure.
So, we changed our plans. They are not destroying anything, but living their ant lives, bringing what they deem useful to the nest. Ordinary, yes, but how else do you get things done? Life is but a quartet of ordinary bits creating the music so that comfort and hope can take each other for a dance.
Here’s another. Our lawn is slowly but surely being replaced with clover, which I celebrate. I do not believe in manicured lawns for many reasons. They are deserts, green as they are, for bees, and they become killing grounds for dandelions and forget-me-nots. A compounded sin of sorts, no?
But the clover. Every now and then I wonder how many four-leaf ones are hiding among the ‘ordinary’ three-leaf ones. The correct answer is ‘it doesn’t matter’. Seeking the extraordinary in the sea of ordinary makes us miss what matters.
Here’s more of what I mean.
The wild roses are in bloom. There’s a particular trail Poppy and I walk on ever morning along the creek, that is a deep lush green where the morning air is steeped with wild rose scent this time of the year.
If you slow down your pace just enough, you breathe it in which will cause you to carry the longing for another deep breath filled with rose air until the next time. Hardly an ordinary occurrence.
Or take the wildflowers that come in waves of beauty all spring and summer long. If you haven’t done it yet, take a close peek at the inflorescence on an alfalfa tall stem. It’s so easy to ignore because they are… well, so ordinary. But stoop to observe the intricacy of the tiny flowers, streaks of all shades of purple, and you’ll be amazed.
On any ordinary morning, I call it a treat and make a mental note to add it to my gratefulness list: grateful for wildflowers that refuse to succumb to human judgment and instead show up relentlessly beautiful.
These days it’s the spectacular that gets the attention. We hang our hats on the wow hook and ignore the ordinary.
That’s when joy dwindles. The ordinary (and I am only calling it this because of how we collectively know it and refer to it) sums up all those things you almost pass by without a second thought. They melt into routine. If we let them.
Yes, there’s comfort in routines but don’t step over the ordinary to get to that extraordinary thing which granted, will make the wow bloom on your lips, but the wow may wither just as fast. It’s the nature of the ordinary, you see, to endure. Which is why I am drawn to it. Because finding it there somewhere n any given day makes the journey worthwhile.
At this point a list of ordinary things is in order. Here’s mine:
- The lavender plant that has finally bloomed after three years of being hosted in our wild garden
- The boys’ goodnight hugs, night after night
- Seeing their faces anew, every morning (for now, while they are still living at home)
- The sharing of deeply cradled stories with a friend
- The smell of summer rain
- That first bite of a shared meal and the silly laughs sprouting when you least expect it
- The smell of the forest in early morning
- The cacophony of birds layering over the sounds of the creek
- The smell of bread baking
- Walking on warm sand
- The sound of crickets on any given summer evening
- The dog’s sigh every night before I drift off to sleep.
Care to share yours?