The Good Life – Noticing the Everyday Special

When You’re young, you sometimes (at least I did) have this idea that there will be these big moments–things like sports championships, graduations from high school and college, getting that first career, your wedding day, your honeymoon, the buying of your first home–that will be the significant and defining times of your life.

If You’re not careful, you can begin to imagine that these big-ticket events are the only things that really count in life, and the rest of what you do, all the day-to-day stuff, is just filler. It’s this sort of thinking that paves the road to mid-life crises, and the sense of worthlessness that blights so many people’s retirement years.

The truth is, though, that there are not very many of these pomp and circumstance-filled times. And when they do arrive, they are often not the way you expected them to be. For instance (to be blunt) for every fairy-tale wedding that comes off without a hitch, I’ll bet there are a hundred brides who feel they are suffering through a living nightmare of stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and many other forms of emotional torment.

One of the truly wonderful things, for me, about getting older and hopefully a little bit wiser, is my ever-increasing appreciation for the smaller, quieter moments that enrich my life. I have a display case containing several trophies, the winning of which seemed so important to me at the time. I have nicely framed academic credentials on my office wall, and several photo albums filled with pictures of exotic holiday destinations that my husband and I have travelled to. No tropical sunrise I’ve ever seen, though, compares to the sense of wonder I felt when my daughter and I got up early one morning, walked to the beach six blocks from our home, and discovered what seemed like tens of thousands of purple starfish clinging to the rocks exposed by an extra-low tide.

I have stayed in ritzy European hotels, but I more clearly remember childhood nights spent roasting weenies and camping out in my aunt and uncle’s backyard. Likewise, no West End theatre show I’ve seen compares to my niece and nephew’s puppet shows, performed on a stage made out of an old refrigerator box. I have eaten in five-star restaurants, but by far the most memorable meal I’ve ever had consisted of burnt toast and orange juice (why it was memorable is a whole other story!).

My point is, every single day of our lives is filled with unexpected pleasures. When we focus too much on the big dreams, the big goals, the hoped-for big events, we run the risk of letting potential magic slip through our fingers.

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