“And while it takes courage to achieve greatness, it takes more courage to find fulfillment in being ordinary. For the joys that last have little relationship to achievement, to standing one step higher on the victory platform. What is the adventure in being ordinary? It is daring to love just for the pleasure of giving it away. It is venturing to give new life and to nurture it to maturity. It is working hard for the pure joy of being tired at the end of the day. It is caring and sharing and giving and loving…”
~ Marilyn Thomsen
As a long-time Lyme sufferer (all my adult life and then some), until recently even an ordinary life has frequently been too much effort for me. I’ve had no energy, or no balance, or no mental cognition. Or I’ve needed to hoard my energy for more important things.
When you’re unwell and exhausted all the time, it becomes hard to be anything but resentful of things like housework. So it has been a joyful experience for me this weekend to potter around the house.
To cook. To do laundry. To tidy my linen cupboard and my kitchen drawers when soft rain fell and being indoors by the fire was cosy and happy-making.
I’ve hiked up into the orchard to pick fruit, and made myself freshly squeezed juice with my gains. I’ve wandered through the paddocks to check on the cows and calves. Two are almost ready to give birth – one of them her first. It’s good to be close to them, and to watch over them.
I’ve had an outing to a local cafe where I sat under a bright cold sky and ate delicious breakfast and then held Ben’s hand, Harry Dog at our feet, as we sipped our hot drinks and huddled together against the wind.
I’ve planted out some seedlings and checked the progress of my winter vegetables.
And I’ve spent time on my bed, cup of tea beside me and book in hand. Because I’m still tired. I still need easy days and early nights. My new treatment regime of detoxing and rehabilitation isn’t brutal like my drug regime was, but it is still taxing and taking me time to get used to.
It might not sound very exciting – this weekend of household chores and little outings. But it’s thrilling to me. After so many years of struggling, to have a weekend of ‘almost normal’ speaks more loudly than any blood test or brain scan.
I came across this poem recently, which seems to capture exactly that space I’m in. I hope you may find a little of that space for yourself and your loved ones too, this week.
Make the Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
~ William Martin