I love the sentiment printed on the journal above. You’d think I would have purchased the journal right then and there, but I whipped out my camera phone in the middle of Target and got this photo instead.
Not only am I cheap, but I’m also boring. I’m an extreme homebody with a very uneventful life. So why the heck would I possibly want to taste life twice?
My mundane existence is even more noticeable for me as a writer who relies on real-life experience to inspire the topics of my bi-weekly blog posts. My constant prayer to God is that something crazy will happen to me each week, like discovering that my husband is pregnant or something. (That’s 9 whole months of interesting blog posts, plus a reality TV show after the baby is born.)
But then I’m reminded of the advice given to memoir writers by a dude named Ta-Nehisa Coates who said:
Accept the limitations and boredom of your life as the challenge of writing. Accept your profound lameness as the wages of your craft. The problem is never that your life isn’t interesting enough, it’s that you aren’t looking (or writing) hard enough.
So at work, during orientation week at my new job as a Bereavement Coordinator for a hospice, I tried to experience my boring life with fresh, eager eyes.
I shadowed a young, tattooed, geek-chic Chaplain as she visited elderly people to offer company and spiritual support. There was something so accessible, warm, and human about her– the exact type of person you’d want visiting Grandma– and I knew in an instant that I wanted to be friends with this lovely soul. (Said instant was when she obliviously began driving out of the parking lot with her back door wide open, and I realized she’s my twin.)
We met up at one of our hospice’s nursing home facilities. Our music therapist was singing and playing piano in the TV room, surrounded by quiet old folks slumped over in their wheelchairs.
But there were some lively people too. Like the one lady who, at 10:30 am during the chorus of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, screamed out “Is it time for dinner?”
Then was the old lady in the faded magenta sweatshirt who paced the room barefoot for 20 minutes until she found a locked janitor’s closet that she spent an additional 10 minutes trying to open. When she realized she was trapped with her peers in this hell hole she stopped pacing, although I was fairly certain she’d try to escape again tomorrow.
I left wondering if I’d end up like them. Would I look back on my life of 80+ years and feel satisfied with the choices I made, even if I ended up screaming out for dinner at 10:30am, or trying to brake into locked closets? Would there be people to care for me?
I needed to know.
There’s so much in life that we cannot control, especially as we grow older and begin to decline. But I do believe that we can control whether or not we’ll look back at a life well-lived. I believe we can develop the ability to be at peace with what our life was, even when it’s almost over. And I believe that the ability to be at peace is something we could be practicing now, through presence, gratitude, and boundless hope.
But back to our boring lives.
You’ve probably done a few interesting things in your life, but it’s probably not much different from that of the average Joe. But you know what? Maybe the best part of your (and my) ordinary existence is who we meet, who we love, who we serve, and how these people change us. And maybe we won’t appreciate just how extraordinary this truly is until we’re slumped over in wheelchairs. But why wait?