When I was younger, I was all for extremes.
I remember one of my favourite quotes in my late teens and early twenties was from Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’:
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Now? Oh my goodness that sounds exhausting. Doesn’t it? I’m all for the beautiful ordinary.Because the drama of never yawning or saying a commonplace thing isn’t just the positive side of things – sparkling conversations with never a dull moment. It comes with an amphetamine fueled rollercoaster of emotions and heaven knows I don’t have time for that.
Give me peaceful souls with thoughtful conversation, gaps for silence and lulls in chatter, and I am one happy lady. It feels like the difference between dancing in a smoke-filled club to loud music and doing yoga in a peaceful studio in the woods. Both are fun, both are exercise, but the experience is dramatically different.
And maybe it’s an age thing – someone told me the other day that 35 was the beginning of middle age (please dear God no!) and I am 35 this year. Maybe it’s a sleep deprived Mom thing. Or maybe it’s just growing up and growing into my real self, not the self I thought I was 15 years ago.
Yesterday we had a beautiful ordinary day. We woke up, played with the kids, ate boiled eggs and toast soldiers, and gardened together while Ella napped and Arthur helped. I took Arty grocery shopping and to buy his first pair of wellington boots (he is so chuffed!), we ate a delicious lunch of fresh bread and avo, drank tea, put the kids down for a nap or quiet time, read a bit. Gardened some more, I took Ella for a walk on the beach, we had an early dinner and an early night.
It was joyful: pure and simple. I was with my favourite people in the world, getting large doses of fresh air and sunshine, eating good food, feeling well. It helps that Autumn in Cape Town is my absolute favourite: crisp, clear days with soft sunshine. Not so hot that you feel sweaty, not so cold that you need a jacket. Just lovely.
And it also helps that I am finally – finally! – after what feels like so long, feeling well and healthy and strong. I remember when my strength returned after I had Arthur, and I feel the same deep satisfaction. I’ve been pregnant and then recovering from my c-section and breastfeeding and so tired and and and. But yesterday I was able to lift large sacks of wood chip no problem. I can bend over and squat and kneel and walk far and fast. I am healthy! I am strong! What an unadulterated gift.
So although last night was pretty rubbish again (Arthur has two sets of molars to push through his gums – one down, one to go), I am starting my week feeling grateful for all the beautiful ordinary in my life. Including the sneaky walk on the beach I fit in before work this morning, this desk with birds singing outside, and the imminent cup of tea I am about to drink. So many slices of joy.