There are things you can’t reach. But you can reach out to them, and all day long. The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of god. And it can keep you busy as anything else, and happier. I look; morning to night I am never done with looking. Looking, I mean not just standing around, but standing around. As though with your arms open. – Mary Oliver
I must confess that sometimes I find it hard to allow inspiration in. My day-to-day life is consumed by the mundane. There is so much repetition of what happened the day before. Waking up, making the bed, dropping and picking my daughter up from school, paying bills, writing and working at my freelancing job, making dinner and any other minutiae that might creep into the slits of the day. How often are my hands open to inspiration? Do I forget the privilege of even doing the mundane?
This thought occurred while driving one late afternoon last week. I looked up and saw not one, but two rainbows perfect in their arc against the grey-blue sky. With an instant immediacy, the word inspiring leaped into my head. I smiled, pulled over on the side of the road, and pulled out my phone to capture these mirror images. This jolt of goodness caused an automatic pause. Why, though, must two rainbows be the only source of inspiration? There is so much of the mundane that is inspiring, but my penchant for efficiency precludes enjoying these slices of flickering goodness.
I’ve learned this lesson through witnessing how my little girl approaches life. Sometimes she bursts out in laughter and I forget to enjoy it. Instead, because there are lunches to be made, homework to be done, and dishes to be washed, I catch myself admonishing her and saying, “Not right now, honey. We have work to do.” My arms are folded to dismiss the opportunity of inspiration. Have you paid close attention to a child’s laugh? Their laughter is deep, from their bellies, and each and every sound resonates with one single emotion: sheer joy. A season will come when my daughter will not laugh quite the same way, as the years steer toward adolescence. Why do I not pay enough attention to the inspiration that exists in those moments?
There are other examples in my day-to-day that also carry that same light: the morning cup of coffee that represents the start of many of my beginnings, the endless paragraphs of a good book, or the feeling at the end of the day that I’ve accomplished what I intended. These are at best, mundane examples, but in it there is that understated, quiet inspiration. Since I get carried away with “accomplishing” or checking off something from my to-do list, I sometimes forget the sheer inspiration of just doing or appreciating the ability to do these very regular, everyday activities.
The comfort of embracing an ordinary life is a place of honor. To exist, to breathe, to laugh, and to cry are all places of inspiration, but sometimes we lose sight of this privilege. The mundane pushes me to only notice those things that are conditioned to be inspirational, like double rainbows, a sunset behind the mountains, or a breathtaking external view of something out of my ordinary existence.
The truth is there are glittery pieces of inspiration that color the cement of our everyday lives. We must be ready to keep our arms open for those possibilities.
This piece originally appeared on the First Day.
Image: Rainbow by woody via Flickr.