Back to the Ordinary

“It’s hardest to love the ordinary things,” she said, “but you get lots of opportunities to practice.”

Brian Andreas for StoryPeople

I get to celebrate my birthday! I never used to care about birthday celebrations, but now I am just so tickled to grow another year older that the day itself feels special even if nothing is planned.

During chemo, I plan my life in one-week cycles: One week set aside for chemo and recovery, and one week set aside for ordinary life. Now that I am on a chemo holiday, I am thrilled to have many weeks in a row set aside for ordinary life.

I considered what to do with this block of time. My world often feels so small during treatments. Maybe we should rent a villa in Italy? Visit friends in Greece? Take the kids on a tour of Europe? Go to Hawaii? Alaska? Australia?

A feeling of accomplishment feels wonderful and would be a nice change. Should I begin a new knitting project? Acquire a new skill? Read my pile of books? Write a book? Return to rowing? Organize our home? (ha ha ha ha)

Connection feeds my soul. Maybe I should jump onto the already-moving train that is my family. I could actually be present for my children at their events and spend time with my husband. We could visit friends and help others. We could strengthen each other and laugh and have fun.

I haven’t figured out how to do all of this, and it might not be possible. But if I don’t select something, I may end up not doing anything.

How to decide? I considered what I miss the most when I am doing chemo. I miss the ordinary. I miss taking a shower, eating without nausea and moving without being tethered to a tube.

I miss thinking about what my family needs and being able to act on it. I miss easy laughter and relaxing times with family and friends. I miss exercise. I miss helping others. I miss traveling. I miss the ability to plan ahead.

So I’m working through all this while I enjoy cooking our daily meals, the impromptu visits of our friends (both adult and children!), and all the busyness that accompanies the end of the school year. No decisions yet, but maybe soon.

I suspect that my birthday will be an ordinary day, driving kids here and there, cooking creatively and seeing friends. And that is just perfect.

Excerpted from The Parent’s Tao Te Ching, Ancient Advice for Modern Parents by William Martin. Good words for me to remember for myself.

From the chapter Make the Ordinary Come Alive

Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

Thank you thank you thank you for your very presence, making my very ordinary life to feel extraordinary in the most beautiful ways.



19 thoughts on “Back to the Ordinary

  1. Ordinary is good.  Happy birthday!

    All good here, too.  My health is good, and I’m in good spirits.



  2. Hi Marie – I’m so late with this and I’m sure your birthday has passed (Happy belated birthday)! Hope it was wonderful and far from ordinary, or ordinary lived to the max! X

  3. I was going back and re-reading some of your recent posts. I love the “Make the Ordinary Come Alive” quote, words to live by indeed! & just in case I missed saying it (last month!) Happy Birthday!

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