In the summer weeks leading up to our wedding, Andy and I spent time with our parents. I remember wanting to be around them before things changed irrevocably. No longer would we be hanging out at their houses because we would have a place of our own.
I remember wanting to not-stress. I was finishing summer classes, we were gearing up for a wedding with hundreds of people, and planning for our honeymoon in Hawaii. We also were going out with friends, finishing premarital counseling, and working. It took a lot of work to not-stress. I wasn’t very successful.
It was around this time that Dad slipped in some advice that made me roll my eyes. He suggested to strive for a dull and mundane life. He said it so much that it became a mantra of sorts, as well as a joke. Andy and I still remind each other of it — remember, the goal is a dull and mundane life.
Maybe someday we will arrive at the goal. Instead it feels like we are jetting from one moment to the next. Some are awesome, like varsity wrestling and California beaches. Some are exhausting like break-ups and arrests. I’m busy being extravagantly available and rolling with the unexpected. The calendar is pudgy and the energy wanes, but I remain forever hopeful that we will one day live a dull and mundane life.
Perhaps this is why I chase after ordinary moments. Rather than rush, I choose to pause and feel the wind brush through my eyelashes. In the midst of the harried schedule, I want to feel the deep breath fill my lungs and the sunshine heat my toes. The stream of demands pause when I turn off my phone and walk barefooted from flower pot to flower pot with an old watering can.
I want to live an unhurried life, but I wonder is this a mythical quest?
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Dull and mundane describes my life to a T since we’ve been staying home. Your father gave you wise advice, and one day you will be able to experience it. In the meantime, let the wind ruffle your eyelashes and heat your toes with the sun.
I love how thought-provoking this piece is. I read a book just before quarantine about living an unhurried life, and then the pandemic happened and an unhurried life is mostly what we have had. Like you, I also crave those ordinary moments, the collection of which can reveal what we truly are. I’ll be thinking about this piece. I’m so glad you wrote it.
You have always been an advocate for celebrating ordinary moments. I have never heard anyone else giving the kind of advice as your Dad did, yet it makes sense and I like it. You may adapt it a bit – not the whole life has to be dull and mundane, but just enough to enjoy it and be able to manage the rest.
Your father’s advice surprised me – I never equated dull and mundane as an unhurried life. After reading your post, I now see the connection. I love this line from your piece, ” I’m busy being extravagantly available and rolling with the unexpected.” This is the true role of parenting teenagers. Once they head off on their own, the unhurried life comes.
There are seasons and if you keep your eyes wide open to the beauty of ordinary moments (flower pots, watering cans) each season has beauty. Thanks Ruth!
Still in search of the unhurried life here, but I’ll take my time with the grand boys over unhurried any day. There’s nothing dull or mundane when you’re hanging out with a three year old and a one year old. But there is much that is ordinary and I celebrate that time as well as daily FT check-ins with baby Ruthie and fly-bys when Spiderman (aka Teddy) can spare a moment.
a dull and mundane life
an unhurried life