Sometimes I feel like life is moving too slow, though it is at the same time moving too fast. I’m talking about the big moments in life. Finding that special someone, moving out, getting that big promotion, launching that grand project. I feel like it is easy to pass through life waiting on these things to happen without enjoying the mundane and ordinary that make up the majority of our days. The real life where real moments, memories, and character are forged–it is easy to waste away. It is deceptive; the days can seem to drag out long and slow, but when you begin to add them up you get to wondering how you got so far out into the present.
I might have gotten used to thinking that everyday should offer some sort of fireworks spectacular. Something that would set my days apart, either jump-starting or lighting it up with emotion. Some films and novels would have me believe that. What’s so devastating is that most of my days, in fact, are no different from one another. I wake up, go to work for 9 hours, come back and eat dinner, do chores, read and write (and occasionally, exercise) before turning in to sleep. Then, I wake up the next morning and push repeat.
Yet, it is in this routine of life that I am finding what it means to be devoted to the small things, the little details and attention of life that can make the mundane magnificent and even sacred. It is learning to put every bit of heart into every moment you’ve been given. It is learning to look deeper than the surface, to discover what makes this day’s color sepia as opposed to mahogany. (It is easy to see a contrast between blue and red; it takes a whole other set of eyes to split and define shades.)
I remember contributing an article to an old publication several years ago, when I was just starting my post-graduate journey. As a jobless and poor young adult, I talked about how I felt like Moses when he was relegated to spending 40 years of his life in the desert, doing little more than tending sheep and wishing for a 7-Eleven to open up near his house. My focus was on how Moses eventually made it through that desert period and onto the next stage and calling for his life.
It’s almost five years later and I now revisit that story but with a different perspective. A part of me still feels like I’m in that desert (or have returned there). But this time, instead of looking to just get through it, I am now focusing on my life while being in it. I’m sure Moses learned it this way. Though Scripture is mum on the matter, something tells me that he made the most of his time. That as a careful shepherd he came to know each sheep and its unique features, why this one was missing a patch of wool above its ear or why that one always steered left of the herd. In my mind there is no doubt that he cared for each sheep dearly and studied each one intently. He learned how to be a great leader before he was ever called to be one.
We often look for the big moments and events by which we can mark our lives. It may be rightfully so. But what will we make of the other seemingly ordinary days that come before and after the fireworks? I am learning to see the colors beyond the surface, whether or not the smoke has cleared. And the days shall all be wonderful if we are willing to see them that way.