This Mundane Life.
This morning on the drive to work The Beatles song “Across The Universe” came on the radio as I scrambled to find my mascara at a red light. Most of the time I don’t pay much attention to the music on the radio. Particularly in the morning before I have been properly pumped with an ample and borderline lethal amount of caffeine when I have zero interest in much besides getting to work on time, food, and my necessary cup of hot java.
There was nothing special about this morning that made it any more unique than yesterday or the day before or the day before that. But as I sat in the driver’s seat fishing through the mess of cosmetics in my small silver make-up bag on my lap, something resonated with me about that particular moment that caused me to stop what I was doing and pay attention to the whole of what was happening around me. Not that there was much going on, per se, but it was just enough to jostle me out of my head for a brief reprieve from the typical slush of half-asleep, half-caffeinated thoughts mostly related to all that I have to do before lunchtime. I tucked away my make-up bag and turned up the radio, immediately remembering upon hearing the chorus a second time how much I adore this particular Beatles ballad:
Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe…
I’ve heard these lyrics plenty of times before. Across the universe is a classic Beatles beat. But the way I heard the harmony this morning felt different, new, and special. So I paid attention. I paid attention to the words and the way it felt to hear them as the sun finished it’s climb up into it’s place in the fresh blue of the early morning March sky. I paid attention to the way the cars ahead of and alongside me zig-zagged in and out of different lanes slowly as traffic crawled along in the morning rush. I paid attention to my reflection in my rear-view mirror and how sleepy my brown eyes appeared and how soft my hair felt from the new, slightly-more expensive conditioner I treated myself to a few days ago. I saw myself as an adult in that instant — a tired, hopeful, passionate, and entirely imperfect adult with a lot of love and a lot of mess inside her soul. An adult who is just trying to get this one life right without ruining it altogether. And an adult who isn’t sure about how much of her complicated past and mistakes and mishaps can or ever will be reconciled to her future, but who is holding out hope that it all somehow will be. Maybe that hope is nothing more than naive and the reality is that the things that have happened in the past that I wish I could erase or forget won’t ever make sense in the whole of my life. I can’t know for certain. But what I can know is that having assurance or confidence in how something may or may not happen in the future does nothing to help us appreciate and savor the present. Because our eyes are fixed on something that hasn’t come to or been given to us just yet. And we lose out on the now when we are constantly propelling ourselves towards the then.
The clusters of cars I caught myself coasting behind a few miles from my office picked up momentum as my mind wandered and my thoughts danced along with the words and melody of the song spilling through my car’s speakers.
Sounds of laughter, shades of life are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on, across the universe…
I wanted to stay in that moment for as long as I could. The smell of coffee wafting through the plastic lid of my cup up toward my nose, the reflection of my tired eyes, brown like pine-cones and alive with youth despite my exhaustion, and the simple serenity of a tender Beatles song serenading me before I entered the chaos of the workday — I wanted to bathe there in that. Nothing but the cool light of morning, warm coffee, and a beautiful song. There was nothing that could conquer me in this space — nothing that could cause me to see life as anything other than utterly and absolutely miraculous and magnificent. A life that is made up of nothing but small moments strung together — beauty and mess hung out on the clothes line to dry side by side, coexisting and calling upon us to pay more attention and to show more gratitude for the mundane even when the mundane feels like the very thing that might destroy us.
Whether we like it or not, life happens inside the mundane. And moments of connection with something larger than ourselves and moments of grace and goodness, too, all take place within the mundane. All of these things — spiritual connection or realization, grace, gratitude, and goodness, are what harbor love — the best kind of love, the kind of love that doesn’t run out of the room when things get tense and uncomfortable and the lights go off unexpectedly and we are left in the dark. The kind of love that is bigger and greater than the punches life throws at us and especially the ones we throw at ourselves when we have convinced our minds to believe we are not worth it.
It is odd that all of this came pouring over me this morning for no other reason than…the setting was right and my spirit, ripe.
By the time the song was over I was ten minutes early pulling into my parking space at work. I grabbed my coffee and climbed out of my car and was greeted with a brisk, earthy breeze that hinted of Spring as I pulled my sunglasses over my eyes to protect them from the bright yellow beams of cloudless morning light. There was nothing extraordinary about any of this except that I felt elevated and alive and grateful for how a Beatles song and soft hair and hot coffee on a chilly March morning can make adulthood a little more bearable. And feel a little bit more complete and whole and perfect, despite all of the signs that so often otherwise point to the opposite.
Here’s to more mornings such as this. And more importantly, here’s to this beautiful, connected, and complicated life and every tiny, tender moment that works together to make it so.
And maybe this other life is more important than the one we think of as being real—this clunky day-to-day world of furniture and noise and metal. So just maybe it is these small silent moments which are the true story-making events of our lives.
March 6, 2015