June 7, 2021
The regular trips to the grocery store. Folding the laundry. Tending to the yard. Sitting in that chair staring at the same scene day after day.
If you’re anything like me, the all-too-familiar aspects of life can seem boring. Painfully repetitive. Downright unbearable at times.
As far back as I can recall, my parents described me as their “little butterfly” — free-spirited, adventurous, and risk taking. Just the other day, I stumbled across a photo of me at age 7 riding my pink Huffy bike in a full-length dress with arms widely outstretched in the air. And in my 40+ years of living thus far, my parents’ description remains as accurate as ever. I’m the first among friends to say ‘yes’ to spontaneous travel and when left to my own devices, am more than willing to travel the globe solo. I truly love living a handsfree type of life!
Needless to say, the ‘wake up-do life-go to bed’ cycle feels a bit smothering on occasion. Am I the only one?
I never thought I’d receive a mid-day telephone call alerting me to my mom’s terminal health diagnosis. I had no idea she’d die just 30 days later. And no one could’ve prepared me for the suddenness of my dad’s death just a few days after visiting him in his home. Over a year later, I often flash back to the final dance to one of his favorite Luther Vandross songs at the dining table. A few days after experiencing this joyous moment, I received a call about his being admitted to ICU, and a week after that, my dad died.
In each of those moments, I would’ve chosen mundane over the uncommon tidal wave of grief on the heels of sudden death. At least predictability reigns in the mundane. What I wouldn’t give to experience those ordinary conversations with my parents. I gladly welcome the long and occasionally boring talks I resisted in early adulthood in their absence.
These days, I find myself celebrating the simplest of things.
Just the other morning as I folded laundry (which I’ve never enjoyed), I found myself grounded in the muscle memory of it all. I didn’t need to think. I just instinctively knew the steps required to lay the items flat, fold, and tuck them away in drawers. Ironically, my mom came to mind, convincing me that even in death, she was there coaxing me to “just get it done.” Strangely, the monotony of the moment helped me feel like I could control something in the midst of many uncontrollable life situations.
One of the ways I’ve come to open myself up to and celebrate this gift is by narrating my way through activities. It’s served as a mindfulness and grief memory practice.
This may sound silly, perhaps. However, I speak aloud saying, for example: “I’m sweeping the floor. I have a floor. I’m thankful for this floor. I love that my feet have touched the floor today. Who else has walked on this floor?”
As I engaged this practice a few weeks ago, I was reminded that my dad’s feet never walked on the new flooring in my home. Upon reflection, I remembered how instrumental he’d been in helping me select ‘the right’ hardwood color following a hot water heater incident. I recalled our last family trip to Biloxi, MS that occurred on the heels of the flooring installation. From there, months riddled with medical appointments and procedures came to mind. I stood in the middle of my living room in tears, thankful that while my dad never visited my home again after the summer 2019, his imprint (in the form of the flooring) remains.
This beautiful memory surfaced as I allowed myself to not only embrace, but also express gratitude for the mundane.
Often, we’re tempted to race through life, hopping from one adventure to the next, without consideration of what’s right in front of us. I’m more guilty of this than I’d like to admit.
However, we have the capacity to make different choices. Slow down. Focus on what’s happening right now. Celebrate the gift of today. Be fully present.
Whether prompted by a sudden change or not, know what’s right in front of you is precious. It’s good. It’s all you need in this moment.
I’m convinced that some of life’s most extraordinary gifts often reside in the ordinary.
Please let me know below.
Learn more about managing your lifestyle, love, leadership, and loyalties to God, self, and others by clicking here: https://mekelharrisphd.com/.