By Mr. Lu
It was beautiful. On a sun speckled day, with a tender breeze and the quivering hopefulness of another year unfurling before us, a contingent of students and teachers sat attentively in the dining hall, listening to Nate, Catherlin, Wren, and Bill share their stories. They spoke simply and clearly of stereotypes and of comparisons with suggestions to overcome along with meaningful insights. It was an ordinary thing, an everyday thing, but it was a beautiful thing.
In the last lines of the TV show The Office, the character Pam remarks, “There’s a lot of beauty in the ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” Social media is filled with gorgeous scenery, and strolling atop our hill yields a picturesque postcard view, worth pausing for certainly. But we fly past beauty often, I think. And reflecting upon this everyday beauty regularly centers us, roots us, and grows us.
There’s the beauty of the fun ordinary. Rubi writes a quote on a whiteboard, and leaves it in the back of my room. Megan and Ianna share a joke about fist bumping. Kevin and Vince run a leadership activity by throwing balls and toys on the ground. Miles, Kai, Ryan, and Ryen win while playing green light, red light. Rewinding these moments from time to time can lift us, but reveling and seeing their beauty gives us so much more. And even when we do forget them, we know there’s a lingering sense of something there, something that was important that made us. I may not remember what I ate a year ago, but I know I ate, and I know I’m healthy and strong because I did. And such is the power of basking in the ordinary.
But there’s the beauty in the hard ordinary too. A student despondently bemoans an unfortunate quiz result. Another is frustrated at all the bad changes due to the pandemic. Another is disappointed at not making it to a council or being accepted to a university. In the moment, these are hard, but in reflection, the ordinary setbacks and obstacles of life give us shared ground, a common springboard. We don’t want or need perfection, or to be entitled. The hard ordinary brings a different sort of beauty, a slugging it out, unboring, drag along the ground kind of beauty that bears its own meaning. We can’t ignore it, but we can see it for what it is, for how ordinary it is, for the dreams and hopes it will beget.
I’ve come to the realization there is no one good stage in life. Every stage is a good stage. Toddler, high school, college, middle age, elderly. There’s beauty and challenge in all the stages. Looking to the past and to the future are interesting, but, for long moments, undistractedly cherishing what is in front of us right now helps us see all that is beautiful.
Andy, another character from The Office opines, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” You’re in the good old days now. Be sure to look for the beauty in the ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?