I turned my book’s manuscript in to my publisher just over three weeks ago. It’s a bit of a shock, given that for the past year, I have had a minimum of two full days per week blocked for nothing but writing (not to mention the 20-some years I’ve been working on this thing!) I now find myself with days that are blank, open, spacious . . . and admittedly, a bit daunting.
Part of me revels in this reality. I (mostly) appreciate that I am not busy, pressured, or stressed; very few demands are placed upon me. When I can stay with it, it feels “normal,” somehow. This is rare, even strange, when compared to how much of my life has been shaped-if-not-defined by exactly these things: busyness, pressure, and stress (as a mom, a single mom, an employee, a laid-off employee, an entrepreneur, and far more hats-worn than I dare count).
“Normal” is in fierce opposition to what our culture endlessly pushes and promotes: messages to respond to, emails to answer, feeds to scroll, exercise regimens to enforce, meal plans to obey, days that are never long enough to get everything done, planners and calendars to purchase, time-management systems to master, success to achieve, money to make, more to buy, more to do, more to become . . .
We live in a world that does not honor, esteem, or support “normal;” rather, it demands just the opposite.
It’s no wonder we struggle to rest, to breathe, to loosen our grip, to *just* be.
Given all this, you can imagine my response to this quote:
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” ~ Mary Jean Irion
As you read her words, I wonder: do you exhale in gratitude? Or do you feel a sense of longing, an “I wish” that rises up within?
Me? I feel a bit of both. I want this to be true — treasuring normal days — AND it feels foreign, sometimes even slightly impossible. I’m way more familiar with the “quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” Not so much as it relates to a singular day, but the quest for perfection in and of itself. Ugh.
Yes, I know better, but it hardly stops me from fantastical thinking: if I could just do/get/attain/manage/accomplish X, Y, and/or Z, then surely everything would come together, fall into place, and be . . . well . . . perfect.
It feels worth naming that when we stay in fantastical thinking, the pursuit of perfection, and the grind of the day-in-day-out Hustle (which pervades everything we see and hear around us), we forget what “normal” even is. Worse, we no longer see it as “treasure.” Instead, normal becomes something to avoid at all costs: Who wants to be normal? Who wants to live a normal life? Who wants to settle for *just* normal?
Uh, I do. Desperately.
I’ve spent a lifetime captivated (“confined” is more accurate) by the climb, the challenge, the race, any and every effort to do and be more/better/all that I can be. It’s incredibly seductive! Which explains why, when I have time on my hands, I feel restless — like something’s wrong or “off.” I wander around (especially in my mind), trying to come up with what I “should” be doing, what will accelerate and advance, what will move me forward. Because CLEARLY, “normal” is not nearly enough!
Except that it is!
I get glimpses of “normal” every once in a while: moments, even a stretch of them, in which I am satisfied by very little, by something small, by doing nothing. I am able to let things be as they are vs. demanding they be different. I (miraculously) give myself permission to not do something else — one more thing — and even more after that. Steps in the right direction. Bit-by-bit. “Normal” as intentional choice and oh-so-gentle pursuit.
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”
I have more to think about and MUCH more to practice when it comes to embracing and treasuring “normal” in my life. I know this with complete certainty because even in this very moment I am wondering what more I should write in this article to make sure it is pithy and meaningful and deep and . . . well . . . perfect. *sigh*
I’m making myself stop.
These last thoughts (for you and me both):
- Reflect on how you might define and express “normal” in relationships; with time, money, and work.
- What if you let go of every “quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow”?
- Consider a C- as a completely acceptable grade.
- Believe that you are already and always enough, that no more is required of you to be worthy, valued, and loved.
- Normalize “normal” in every way you possibly can, knowing that you’ll never get it completely right, completely perfect, completely anything . . . which is exactly the point!
May it be so.
I hope the days ahead offer you generous opportunity to let go of any and all expectations/demands of “more,” that you can *just* be, and that normal reigns. Ahhhhhh.
1) I recently came across the idea of C- (mentioned above) when reading Reclaiming Body Trust: A Path to Healing and Liberation by Hilary Kinavy and Dana Sturtevant. I highly recommend this book. It is challenging SO much within me and it feels hugely significant, even critical.
2) Worth reading one more time: “Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” ~ Mary Jean Irion
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