Liquid Footprints

Ordinary Life

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Live every act fully, as if it were your last.

– Buddha

We try just so hard to escape ordinary life. We indulge in fantastic escapism such as Twilight and World of Warcraft. We speak about just how terrible life is. We complain about work and purchase items that promise to make us better. We create drama by cheating on each other, breaking trusts, strutting like peacocks, and living beyond our means. We fail to see just how beautiful it is to awake to the sound of your partner snoring, the kids fighting, and the sound of the doves greeting the morning sun. We grown and use the blankets to shut out “another” day just a little longer.

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.

– Chinese proverb

It is perfectly okay to be ordinary and live ordinarily. We have to be careful about escapism. Before we realize it, our life is gone. There are more ways to escape ordinary life than there are ways to experience it. We can disappear into complete fantasy worlds were we are either experiencing “candy love” or becoming a legend in a world that exists only online. Television is always available. Movie theaters are open the majority of the day. All peddle a message that ordinary life is boring. All peddle stories that only make is grow more dissatisfied with the way reality works and the beauty of the mundane. All the time spent is gone once the electricity is turned off.

Everyone needs to escape time to time. However, too much consumption of fantasy distorts the mind. We grow to expect ordinary life to contain drama, “candy love,” relentless action, and everything else we gobble up on television and in the cinemas. Going to work everyday, weeding the garden, eating a quiet dinner at home, wiping the kids’ runny noses, and just breathing the sunshine are painfully beautiful acts of living. We lose sight of this with our dissatisfaction.

Dissatisfaction is really the root of our dislike of the ordinary. Always we compete to have faster cars, shinier houses, and more money. Who are we competing with? Our neighbors? We are only competing with our internal dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is a difficult adversary. As we gain more and more, he grows stronger. Just how much can a single person possess before dissatisfaction is truly and finally defeated?

A loaf of bread and a lily.

The less we possess the more we appreciate what we do have. A few friends are close to the heart. A loaf of bread is wonderfully delicious when it is our last. A lily is more vivid when we spend our last penny to hold it in our hands. Ordinary life is all we possess, yet we ignore the bread we have in our hand and reach for the feast we see on the distant horizon. Dissatisfaction is a demon of the mind. It is a choice. How can the morning song of the birds dissatisfy? The answer depends on how we view a new day.

Ordinary life is extraordinary if we think it so. A new day is a new day – not a continuation of the same old routine – if we think it so. Thoughts determine our view of the world.  Hold the lily in your hand.

Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

We cannot hold to all the “have to’s” and “musts” we utter. We have to do nothing but live right now. Ordinary life is only lived when we are in touch with the present. Feeling the sunshine on our skin is living. Hearing the kids’ throw a tantrum is living.  Living is coming home from work, mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, and the host of other things we do in an ordinary life as long as we do it with appreciation and awareness of now. If we don’t live with awareness, if we don’t live now, we are essentially dead.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.


Blessed are the ordinary, for they are truly alive. Jesus lists in Matthew these Beatitudes of ordinary people. Ordinary people are poor in spirit, mourn, are meek, strive for goodness, are merciful, are good at heart, and try to live peacefully. Only deluded people try to live more than an ordinary life. Ordinary people make mistakes, make jokes, make meals and make love. Ordinary people look at the stars and ponder their lights. Ordinary people do extraordinary things, while the people who try to be extraordinary do nothing of value. The trick to being ordinary is being aware of the present moment. It is all we have.

Yes, it is okay to be ordinary.

Author: Chris

Wanders the world of Japanese culture and library nerdiness.

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