Liquid Footprints

Beautiful Mundanity


A mundane life is no life at all.  The ordinary day to day life we lead is nothing but boredom and doldrums. Or so we often tell ourselves.  I hear it all the time: “I have no life!” or “I really need a life!”  We often create a lot of drama to “spice” up a rather dull life.  We indulge in behaviors that we may know are bad for us one way or another, simply to escape the boredom. Every day is the same: get up, shower, go to work, come home, eat dinner, housework, and  then go to sleep. Day in, day out.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s Okay to Be Ordinary. Ordinary is Beautiful.

People around my area (mostly young folks) say all the time: “There is nothing to do around here!”  Many dream of moving to a big city with bright lights and a night life.  However, I’ve heard that people in those very cities say much the same thing. Even the most exciting action becomes ordinary with repetition.

The usual day is full of beautiful but mundane things: the rising and setting of the sun, a child’s smile, a wife’s kiss, the blue dome of the sky, and all the other little things we often don’t notice. We want adventure. But what is adventure? Maybe climbing a mountain is an adventure to us.  Maybe we want to climb Everest.  So we go to the Himalayas and what do we find?  Sherpa guides to guide us on our climb!  They guide climbers up Everest several times in a year. Not only that they make their home up in the Himalayas.  To them, what we take to be an adventure is their bread and butter. One person’s adventure is another’s ordinary.

It is good to come home to a spouse everyday and talk over dinner. It is beautiful to sit on the floor and play Lego with a child. It is beautiful just to walk to the mailbox or to the grocery store. All of these little things define what it means to be alive. If we can’t enjoy the ordinary how can we expect to enjoy the extraordinary?

Ordinary people do amazing things: they love; they create; they heal; they teach. Were it not for us ordinary folk, the world as we know it wouldn’t exist.

Your Life is Average, and It’s Okay.

Advertisers know this thirst for escape and capitalize on it.  They attempt to appeal to your dissatisfaction with the everyday.  Ever notice how just about every ad on TV touts something that will make your life easier? Or that will “change your life?” They try to make you seem like you are less for not having their product.  They try to convince you that you will be the envy of your neighbors, or be irresistible to the opposite sex, or be instantly healthy.  If only you will buy their product! Of course, what they don’t tell you is that millions of people at the same time are seeing the same ad, and a number of them are buying this product. Advertisers sell an illusion: not only do these products often not work as advertised…how can you be out of the ordinary for owning something if millions own the very same thing?

The group that is a poster child for this sort of thing are the Hipsters.  Hipsters are a subculture that thrives on trends.  They adopt things that are ‘cool’ and take them out of their context.  For example, the trend for awhile was trucker hats, then lens-less glasses, then girl jeans, on and on.  Everything they do is ‘exclusive’.  They listen to bands no one has heard of.   They drink beer no one likes.  All of it is an attempt to be cool or different.  But by trying to be different, they popularize the very things that made them different in the first place.  Then they have to move on to something else to maintain their exclusivity until that too becomes popular.  On and on and on.

This tendency to be uncomfortable with the ordinary extends to our personal relationships as well. Relationships are so difficult anymore. We often think we have to be more than ordinary to have one. We have to be stronger, sexier, thinner, or richer than anyone else, or the object of our affection will simply pass us by. Any type of relationship that can be established is poisoned by this type of thinking.  We cannot be with our lover fully and truly if we are not content in ourselves.  We think we need to be better that what we are, when really we are as good as we need to be.  Often though we simply don’t see this.

Relationships Need to Thrive on the Mundane.

No matter how much fire a couple has eventually it will fade into embers. Relationships are truly established in the course of daily life.  Work, shopping, school, doctor’s appointments, then home to watch TV….it is the forge of daily living that shapes our love. It’s certainly easy to love when everything is fresh and exciting. However, the initial flush of love fades. Love grows and changes over time. Can you still love the person when the initial glow fades and changes? When all they do is come home offer a hug and fall asleep on the couch after dinner? Can you love a person when the closest thing to a date is going grocery shopping at Wal-Mart?

This is where the ordinary is beautiful. Ordinary allows people to develop a depth to their relationships that is lacking in relationships based purely on excitement. Ordinary forces us to get to know each other without distraction.

Ordinary can be a source of strife as well. It is a decision to make it so.  We hold onto hurt, pet peeves, or other “exciting” or “dramatic” things in desperate attempts to make our lives less mundane. Doing so only damages the relationship and brings us suffering. It is much better to just be ordinary and live together closely and peaceably. Use the mundane to draw closer. Talk over dishes about hopes, dreams, or just concerns of the day. Sit on the couch together under an afghan. Enjoy the moments spent together.

Let’s face it. Our lives are pretty ordinary and can even be boring when we have the wrong perspective. However, we can find the mundane beautiful when we finally realize all things must end. Our lives, all our lives, are impermanent. We are here for only a little time, and it is beautiful! Realizing the impermanence of everything, in particular the fact your love will not always be with you, helps the ordinary be beautiful.  We often don’t want to think about this.  It can be unpleasant to realize that we will die, that all we love will one day no longer be here.  But if we look deeply, we see that this isn’t anything to fear.  It is simply the nature of things.  We are here for a little while, and we go on.  Where we go, no one knows.  It doesn’t matter.  We are here now.  That is what matters!

We only have what we have. We might as well be content with it.  There is always going to be something more or “better” no matter how far we “progress.” We will never be content with what we have until we decide to be.  All we have is the ordinary no matter how extraordinary it seems to be at first.

Your life is average. And it is Beautiful.

Author: Chris

Wanders the world of Japanese culture and library nerdiness.

3 thoughts on “Beautiful Mundanity

  1. I really like the way you point out that the qualitative depth of relationships forms during the ordinary, and is preserved by avoiding the negative dramatic. There’s a quote I think you might like, because it seems to fit with your word-picture of enjoying our time here (though I regret I don’t know who said it): “We are not humans having a spiritual experience, we are spirits having a human experience.”

  2. Thank you. I have come to know what you have said but this is the first time I have actually read exactly what I feel. Nice and simple yet truthful and somewhat profound. Thanks again.

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