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This Ordinary Day

Just became extraordinary

Double rainbow over a lake with leafless weeping mulberry in foreground.
Double rainbow and a Japanese weeping mulbery having a bad hair day at Evergreen. An ordinary yet extraordinary scene.

Have you ever had an extraordinary day when something unexpected, outside the norm, momentous, happened?

Perhaps a packet of money fell from the sky and landed at your feet, you locked eyes for the first time with your soul mate, a butterfly rested on your shoulder, or you were cordially invited aboard an alien space craft for a short tour. You can probably count these extraordinary days on one hand, while the rest of life unfolds day by day in predictable normality.

Or does it?

Whether a day is ordinary or extraordinary really depends on you, not on outside forces.

I recently picked up a book in my dentist’s waiting room — No Ordinary Days: Little Exercises to Change Everything, by M H Clark. One of the pages contained a quote from William Martin:

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

It’s difficult to focus on philosophical thoughts while awaiting a needle and the whine and grind of a dentist drill, but this sentence about making the ordinary come alive did distract me from my imminent ordeal.

How does one make the ordinary come alive?

By paying attention to it.

For example, I see flowers, clouds, and my right hand every day, but since my last dental visit, I’ve made a point of focussing on these types of seemingly ordinary things throughout the day. This morning I paid special attention to the flowering dianthus on my bedroom balcony, smiled at a late afternoon cloud formation that looked like a chariot pulled by a pig, and spent a few evening moments contemplating my extraordinary right hand which has been doing my bidding for decades.

It would be tiring, and unnecessary, to spend each moment in rapt amazement, but scattering some instances of total absorption in what you normally consider as ordinary can do you a world of good. It raises your level of awareness and floods your senses. Your breath deepens, your heart slows, and endless thoughts fade. The thing you focus on seems to glow.

You consciously become what you already are — an integral part of all that surrounds you.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Pema Chödrön in The Wisdom of No Escape:

Acknowledging the preciousness of each day is a good way to live, a good way to reconnect to our basic joy.

Financial windfalls, meeting a soul mate, butterfly encounters and friendly alien visitors are rare occurrences, but if you take the time to really examine the ordinary, your perspective will change.

You’ll find that each day will become extraordinary.

Because it is.

And so are you.

With love, Marlane

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