Summertime. The beaches are calling, and the exotic places of Earth are waiting for me to take a selfie with them. This is the season when we carve out time to put ordinary life on hold, put to-do lists in time out, and let responsibilities rest. For a few days, or a couple of weeks if we can get them, we are free.
…until it’s time to go home and return to ordinary days full of ordinary people and ordinary jobs and food and conversations about traffic and plans for the next holiday. Holidays can be so nice that they can tempt us to see the months and weeks of regular work in between as just a preparation for our next chance to get away. But what if all of this ordinary stuff in between is more than just a savings plan for another escape? What if it’s actually our life? And what are we missing by wishing it away?
I’ve got nothing at all against sightseeing adventures and time for rest. I quite enjoy exploring a new place and spending a whole week away from email. But we can’t live there. As soon as we settle down and try, the new becomes the normal and the extraordinary sights we wondered at will become the ordinary scenery of everyday life. The exotic escape will slowly change into ordinary days full of ordinary people and ordinary jobs and food and conversations about traffic and plans for the next holiday… and that’s ok. I know about this because I’ve done it. I moved to a place people love to visit, and I’ve lived on this beautiful island for ten years. And now it has become my everyday ordinary, full of familiarity and (now that it’s summer) conversations about where we’re all going on holidays.
I love living here, and I’m not at all sad that my initial surprise at Ireland’s stunning beauty has given way to something else – something deeper, slower, and far more precious. You might call it everyday ordinary and think that’s an insult, but I think it has a lot going for it: it’s the place where we build friendships brick by ordinary brick, it’s where we look after each other’s needs, share life’s joys, watch children grow, and grow our roots in a community where we know and are known. It’s where shared meals and moments grow into a rich history of memories, and where jobs done well preserve and create, building on the past for the sake of the future. Yes, it’s usually small. Lots of people are doing the same kinds of things. So we call it ordinary. But what if the everyday ordinary things really are the most important?
I hope you get holidays, and I hope you enjoy them (I certainly plan to), and I hope you can see the good in all the everyday ordinary you come home to.