My eyes opened immediately after my iPad emitted the gentle jingle I use for an alarm. I was on the couch, a casualty of my husband’s snoring and my own sharp hearing. He had surgery for that earlier this summer, but he got a nasty cold last week, so all bets are off.
My first mental act when my eyes opened was to search my head for something to look forward to in the coming day, some purpose to define the day. I’m disturbed to say I came up empty-handed. Ordinarily, the prospect of my coffee is enough in that moment, but it was falling short.
Many things in my life are in a bit of disarray: schedules, relationships, my house, and my plans for the rest of the month. The last two goals I’d hoped to achieve by the end of this year — finding a house to buy and finishing my piece about my trip to the Silver River — are proving more time-consuming than I anticipated. There was no resolution on the table for either today. And I’m home, instead of away somewhere with my camera and my hiking boots, so there would be no photos to edit, no travel writing to compose. Everything was hopelessly in process.
Looks like I was stuck with ordinary life for the day.
There was so much meaning in that ten-second interchange I had with myself before being fully awake. My life has a lot of “down” time at this point. I’m still raising a child, and working to support myself and my family. So when fulfillment to me is “wandering around the natural world taking photos of it and writing about it”, I’ve recognized that I better find some meaning in that down time — because there’s a lot of it. And it seems that, unconsciously, I’ve found that meaning in striving, ticking off goals, always looking to the future.
I got up, went to get the coffee I look forward to every morning, and went about my day, forgetting that weird little let-down feeling when I discovered that no boxes would be checked today. But eight hours later, as I was getting into the elevator to go home, I remembered it. What had I ended up doing today? I reviewed. I communicated with close friends about topics close to our hearts; I did a piece of legal work; I went to lunch with my brother and enjoyed good food and a lot of laughter, and some discussion about things that are important to us.
“I’m not the same person I was this morning,” I said to myself suddenly. I’d learned things, seen things, felt things. I had grown a little bit, almost imperceptibly. The day I thought would be pointless had worked on me, somehow, in all its ordinariness.
It’s a cliche that life is the journey and not the destination. But for a cliche, it’s amazing how difficult it is for me to grasp it. Some days it’s impossible, and that piece of time goes into the archives unrecognized and unmarked, even though it contributed to my life as a whole.
Although I know people who seem able to do it, I get frustrated sometimes with the mantra to find the magic in every day. I don’t think that’s always possible for a mere human being, especially when you’re stuck in a cosmic moment where you feel like you’re not quite living your own life. And also, if I found magic every day, magic might become ordinary — for me, at least, because I am grouchy that way.
But every day has a point. Every day works on me. The gift of October 6, 2015 — the magic, dare I say — was that it taught me to appreciate the soldier days, the quiet days that I forget, but that form me in ways I may never know. That’s a truth that fits.