My eyeballs are tired of chewing, and my mind is stuffed with undigested information. Please tell me I’m not the only one who is utterly fatigued with the A-list interviews, front-page headlines and viral posts?
Media feeds off of remarkability, and how can you blame them for it? In fact, when it comes to positive storytelling, influential interviewing, and substantive content, it fits right in the simpatico of our needs.
It reminds us that there is hope in the midst of chaos.
However, I want to find joy in unremarkable things. I want to be in a place where the second cup of coffee is just as good as the first. I want to hear the clicks of my keyboard and loose track of time. I want to go to the gym and enjoy myself without having to tell the whole world about it. I want to spend a few extra minutes sitting on the couch with my dog talking to him a voice I’d never use in public. I want to love my wife in the still moments, where nothing is happening.
I want to find joy in unremarkable things.
Ironically, this is now a skill. Since we have news feeds in our pockets that send a barrage of success stories into our minds every day, it’s rather easy to adopt a mindset that is always “swinging-for-the-fences.”
When we’re inundated exclusively by the home-run media, we can fall into the trap of comparison. After we listen to the podcast, we look at our life and think, “Well, I’ve got to do something great now too.”
This type of motivation is sophomoric and externally fueled. It sustains us for a minute, but once the next novel story catches our attention, we’re on to the next thing hoping to find that joy.
This perpetual chase reminds of the man who built a home by the sea on a cliff. One day, heavy fog rolled in. In disgust, the man picked up his things and moved across town to avoid any fog. The next day, the fog had cleared.
Finding joy in unremarkable things demands a certain cadence. It requires that we transcend how we think about success.
I’m sitting in the middle seat of a tin bird and we’re on the runway waiting to take off. As I squeeze every last second of screen time on my phone to distract my fear of flying, I notice that I’m sitting next to decades of life wisdom.
The women next to me is tiny, old and delicate. She moves at a pace unimaginable to someone my age. But, there’s something oddly beautiful about her rhythm. She seems poised and intentional. While I fidget the whole time, she sits there mindfully. No book. No fidgeting. Hands crossed in her lap.
Mid-flight she reaches down below the seat in front of her. It’s a yellow bag with red writing that I can’t read. I think it’s Chinese. My head is buried in a book, and I hear her pop open a container of something. In the next moment, I feel a gentle brush on my arm. I look to my right, and her smile is too lovely to remember. The love in her face overpowered the wrinkles and cracked lips.
I don’t think she spoke any English, but she didn’t’ need to. She spoke the universal language. She reached out with her treats and offered a tiny morsel of love. The coconut crusted dough-ball was probably loaded with sugar. But there was no way I was going to say no to her.
This small, seemingly unnoticed event won’t make headlines. Nobody will invite her for a podcast interview. She won’t get featured by some big publication.
But most of us would agree with Alaric Hutchinson who said, “It is often the simple daily practices that influence our lives in dramatic ways.”
I’m not a hot writer. I need time to think about things. It’s been a week since that flight, and I now realize why that moment hasn’t left me. That exchange was a moment of un-remarkability by mainstream media standards.
Her simple daily practice of love influenced me dramatically. I’m going to go ahead and assume that this is her default practice.
I’m reminded that finding joy in unremarkable things is like fundamentals of sport. Even the top athletes must practice the fundamentals day in and day out to continually develop their potential.
WE too must practice the fundamentals of finding joy in unremarkable things to develop ourselves.
In other words, finding joy in unremarkable things simply doesn’t happen. It’s a practice that must be cultivated daily.
It’s not enough for only our eyes to be open. Our hearts must be awake, and our minds must be trained to define success as a state of being rather than a destination.
The morning chill is sharp in Bend, Oregon today. I’m sitting in Thump Coffee shop. I just ordered my second cortado from the gal who has one side of her head shaved with a sleeve of tattoos down her left arm. I’m waiting with excitement because I know this second serving is going to be as good as the first.
This article originally appeared on Brian Edward McFadden
Photo credit: Getty Images