Today on my morning walk I reflected on my feelings of inner contentment. I realized that they are based mostly on the unremarkable aspects of my life. I’m really enjoying the lush greenery of Tampa, the explosion of colorful blooms and perfumed air, and even the humidity, which, in the early morning is like a comforting blanket around my shoulders. And just walking…how unremarkable for most of us just to be able to walk, moving under our own power from place to place.
But if we listen to the rush of daily news reports, our world is full of remarkable events and people, and little else. It seems everyone who performs an act of kindness becomes a “hero.” Tragic natural disasters become occasions for constant updates. Our presidential campaigns will be spending billions of dollars for the next two years, bending over backwards to inform us how utterly remarkable each candidate is, painting him or her as the next savior of the free world. And even that doesn’t get the majority of Americans to vote…for anyone!
All of this interests me to some degree, but what does it do to my soul? It heightens my anxiety. It creates a sense of déjà vu and hopeless. It pricks my cynical side while at the same time flooding me with empathic grief. It’s slowly drowning in information, most of which is not relevant to this moment in time.
And so I’m pulling back. I’m focusing my soul on the unremarkable, the ordinary, the little bits of reality that I may take for granted, such as the swarm of black flying bugs mating in mid-air around the blooming gardenia bush. Or the quiet stillness of our backyard pond. Or the fruit of the local mahogany tree littering the sidewalk.
I need to allow the unremarkable to have first claim on my soul. It’s a like a gentle friend that enables me to center myself. It holds me back from reliving and regretting the past or fretting about the future. The unremarkable daily presence of a loving spouse grounds me in a priceless quality of contentment. And my unremarkable oatmeal with fruit that he sweetly prepares for me each morning is like winning a daily lottery.
What are the unremarkable people, places, objects, and events that you may be overlooking? What if you were to put all else out of your mind and focus on them, beginning with your unremarkable breathing? Can you feel the calmness overtaking you? When might you take some time consciously to enjoy your unremarkable life?
All artwork is copyrighted by the artist, Michael Parise
A comment from a correspondent:
Your last 2 posts are remarkable for how they tap the very same feelings and thoughts I’ve been having lately.
Thoughts about what is being kind , is what I’m doing enough or significant? And why isn’t kindness in the pedestrian moments and daily interactions significant?
And what you posted Today was so sweet and spot on. The scale of my life is not huge or heroic, and my happiest moments are and always have been, “insignificant”. I go to the gym 5 mornings a week, and I love the cool air, and birdsong of the predawn hours. Plus I get to see the phases of the moon. But it’s always a battle, enjoying that stillness, and shutting up the voices with all the shoulds etc, the expectations or wandering off elsewhere.
Thanks for inadvertently reminding me to not only seize the day, but to enjoy the day too.
Thank You Michael. Your last few posts have given me much to think about ans have made me realize just how far I have evolved into myself. I even find myself not watching the daily news regularly and trying to keep the bad stuff in perspective. I know that I am doing all that I am able at this time and need to live with that. Here in Southern Ontario the large trees, elms and others, are now in bloom, and soon the shrubbery will be ablaze. Yes, I may need to resort to antihistamines, but they will be there for the enjoyment of all. Spring will be like a new day and I aim to wrap myself in its story of a new beginning. I need that, very much!