Celebrating the mundane
Why is it so bad to talk about the ordinaries of life? People often say the mundane is so boring, let’s talk about something exotic. Let’s gossip about somebody’s perversion. Isn’t there a scandal that’s just been discovered? Have you heard about the latest murder? Are the terrorists going to kill us all? Will they take over our world so that we will have to hide and practise our rituals in secret? Will our grandchildren ever get a paying job again? What’s the point of voting, they all tell us lies?
Turn down the TV, step away from the computer. Better still, turn them off! Don’t we wish it was that simple, but if we stop listening and are not active, isn’t what happens partly our fault?
I think I’d rather talk about how wonderful it is that the sun came out today. And this after many too many days of driving rain. If I organize my time correctly I will be able to sit on my balcony in the evening with a small glass of my favourite beverage, sending out smoke signals. We have had a late spring this year and the trees have been slow to leaf. I have a clear view of the water out by English Bay. It is too early in the season to see any sailboats. I have been rushing the season by stuffing the baskets around my balcony edge with colourful plants; red, yellow, blue, mauve and in-betweens. The dozens of tulips I planted last fall have let me down; lots of greenery, but only a handful of flowered heads.
It is not too early in the season for my blue plastic dragonfly to flutter with excitement as the sun pours over the balcony railing. I can feel the gentle blush of warmth on my skin if the breezes are not too vigorous. Sometimes I have to wear a leather jacket and a scarf to advance my challenge to the recalcitrant spring. I have cast off the rigours of a stuffy nose and a dry throat to insist on being in the pink of good health. We have even had a walk on the beach and ventured into Stanley Park to feed the ducks. We have abandoned the heat of the foreign and the exotic to embrace our ordinary life.
We are back to regular exercise at the community centre. Wasn’t it nice that people noticed we have been away and say they are happy to see us back? We are enjoying our regular shopping trips to the places we are used to. And dropping in on the new restaurants that have sprouted in our neighbourhood to vary our regular dietary habits. It was comforting to visit our doctors, dentists and pharmacists just to check in. And it was great to touch base with friends and family, finding occasions to meet and greet. In spite of technology that spans time and distance so effectively, even with those further away, somehow, people seem closer when we communicate with them from home. The ties that bind are so much stronger when we can see each other face-to-face.
For the next while, we will have gatherings bringing together family members and friends into our own locale, the ones not often in the same place at the same time. I look forward to these encounters. Life can be so fragile and we have had recent reminders of that reality. Sharing each other’s company in the flesh can be one of the rare pleasures we can enjoy in the peripatetic world we inhabit. I treasure each and every one of these opportunities. An appreciation of the passage of racing time gives these occasions added significance.
We ourselves will be traveling long distances soon to acknowledge important events in the lives of those near and dear. Travel is not what it once was, and is more of a challenge for us than it has been in the past. But the act of presence is important. Too often, for us, these days, it is about departing souls, so it is delicious when the trip is about new beginnings. And I will actually get to have all my children around me in one place. Wow!
I just had a birthday. I am too often careless about these times; I have had so many. It was heartening to have others make a fuss. And I got to have contact, and actually talk to, people it is often really difficult to reach in the ordinary course of life. I got to talk to some of my favourite people; that’s always a special pleasure. Appreciating how much of a treat it was for me makes me resolve to pay a lot more attention to this item in the lives of my friends and dear ones.
So here it is. We have spent all this time and space nattering on about so many mundane things. None of the topics has been about earth-shaking events. It does help soothe us, particularly when we have to go through some rough spots. You will have to judge whether it has been worthwhile. I think it has been.
I am looking forward to a sunny tomorrow.
Max Roytenberg is a Vancouver-based poet, writer and blogger. His recently published Hero in My Own Eyes: Tripping a Life Fantastic is available from Amazon and other online booksellers.