Life is muddling and mundane. True? False?
For me, it depends on the moon and how much sleep I’ve had. There are days when birdsong swells my life; and then there are days when birdsong flies under the radar because I’m too busy being mundane and muddled and moony.
My answer (when I’m in a good mood) is: False.
Albert Einstein said ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’
To counteract my tendency to live in my head, burrow too deeply into my heart, and turn a blind eye to my surroundings, I keep a journal where I list, each day (only missed a few entries) what I’m grateful for. I list miracles.
Admittedly, some entries deteriorate, morphing into thinly veiled rants rather than gratitude expressed; some are even pathetic and annoying and misery-gutsy.
When I go back and read them I want to do what my sister did when someone was in copious complaining mode (not me, thankfully) – she gently rubbed her thumb and forefinger together as if rolling a tiny, dry snot ball (please don’t tell me you never rolled tiny, dry snot balls as a child!…if you still do it, best keep it to yourself) and said I’m playing the smallest violins in the world for you. In other words, quit telling the dramatic sob story ‘cos it’s getting on my nerves.
Lots of people pen gratitude and wax lyrical about how it has changed their lives. I often bore myself nearly to death with my wooden entries and unimaginative phrases. Has it been of any benefit to me then?
I believe it has.
When I haven’t fallen off the gratitude wagon, so to speak, and penned self-pitying drivel, this habit has saved me from myself and my listless, long-faced episodes. It’s a wonderful record of happy events and, when I do go rogue, I can see the cyclical nature, the patterns, present in my life. It helps to know that all things are temporary – happiness and sadness, fights and frivolity, coming and going, bursts of energy and bits of exhaustion.
I’ve lifted a few of the entries from the past year to demonstrate how, from simple to silly to savvy, I feed from the smorgasbord that is daily, uneventful, unglamorous life. It bolsters and fortifies my desire to see meaning and magic in what can occasionally feel like our small, meaningless lives (especially in a media soaked society):
- Listening to the banter between brothers.
- My epitaph will read If she asks for directions, point up – getting lost and being geographically challenged is something I have accepted about myself and, fortunately, my children have good-naturedly accepted it too.
- The funny, floppy, nostalgic feeling in my gut whenever I remember things like the drive-in, or the sails of the boats on the vlei (lake) visible from the first childhood home I can recall.
- Nasturtiums emerging in the garden bed adjacent to my front door.
- Standing outside at dusk and appreciating where I am.
- Making a delicious soup with basic ingredients: onion, potato, and baby marrow briefly fried in butter, then simmered in a little water, salt and braai spice. Added cream and liquidized with the blender. Served topped with grated cheese.
- Lying on the lawn for a bit.
- A train ride into the mountains in an old railway inspection wagon with Ma-Ling. A joyful, breathtaking, majestic experience. Going to treat Aytch to the same ride on his birthday.
- Coldplay live. Thrilling and transporting…just the best music and audiences. I get goosebumps. Fix You.
- A happy home, a happy car, a happy child and a happy shop where I found inexpensive fresh figs, homemade peach jam and avocado pears.
- Getting better and better at responding to emails sooner rather than later.
- Getting better and better at sitting in tender comfort with myself and my emotions.
- A misadventure becoming an adventure. Aytch missed the bus because I had the incorrect time. When the initial panic subsided we took advantage of the extra day and had a scaly, sunny, phenomenal time at the Reptile Park – treated by the guide to an extended tour and saw snakes as inviting as armchairs; their coloring and patterns looked like upholstery designs.
- Doing the best I can with who I am.
- Charcoal tablets in the first aid container – the bacon I cooked for our supper fry-up was peculiar and ‘mank’ (as Jee put it). To avoid nasty repercussions we swallowed three tabs each to soak up any sickening microbes.
- How my sons talk to me about anything and everything – porn, drugs etc. We have remarkable, rich, gritty conversations.
- Eating out of the cupboard: a term used to describe a period of avoiding the shops and creating meals with what can be found in the cupboard and fridge (I excel at this). Made a scrumptious dinner of pasta topped with a gently biting, in-a-jar tomato based Bolognese sauce (with chili) to which I added some cream and topped with avo and feta cheese.
- The pleasurable warmth of sunshine in the kitchen.
- Trimming the greenery in the back garden – it felt good to give the plants more light and air and I got some of the same.
- Laughing raucously and uproariously.
- Modern appliances e.g. washing machine.
- Hot water bottles – so comforting.
- Persuading Jee to have his toxic 2 minute noodles with Ina Paarman’s stock rather than the flavor sachet provided – he agreed it was tastier. Small parental victory.
- Fried eggs atop hot chips.
- The bare, stark branches of the big tree – birds alight there and fill the sky with life and song.
There you have it. Straightforward and plain.
What keeps you sane and present in your miraculous life? Exercise, walking the dog, flirting over the garden fence, writing in a lockable diary, feeding feral cats?…
…or are you purposefully missing and mad and reading this in an internet café and therefore not at all mundane, just muddled?
Thank you for visiting and I hope to see you again soon.