In Praise of the Usual

by Billy Coffey

My son’s bedtime prayer on a recent Thursday ended with a smile and this: “And God, please make tomorrow just like today.”

It seemed the common petition of a four-year-old: innocence + simplicity = praying. Innocence because he asked nothing else of his Maker on that night. Simple because there seemed no rational reason why he would ask for such a thing at all.

I could of course recall asking God for much the same thing when I was his age. A rerun, if you will. There were many wonderful days I longed to enjoy again. But notice what sort of days they all were: wonderful ones. That would seem to be a precondition, wouldn’t it? The days we wish to repeat are the ones that stand out from the rest. Christmases and birthdays and the last days of summer vacations? Wonderful days. To ask God for more of them would be understandable. Maybe even obvious.

But the Thursday in question was not wonderful for my son at all. There were no surprises or celebrations. No treats or presents. No grand happenings. By his own admission nothing about it seemed destined to hold some special place in his memory. It was a day more likely instead to be melted by time into the day before and the day before that into one big lump of Nothing Particular.

In other words, the day was usual.

So why ask God for another just like it?

After all, the usual isn’t something most people desire. It is seen as an existence paused, an indicator of the inherent failure of one’s own life.

Jobs we don’t want? Houses we are weary of calling home? Trying to figure out how to squeeze a few more miles out of the gas tank and a few more dollars into the checkbook? Getting up too early because there’s so much to do and going to bed late because we can’t get it all done?

That’s the usual.

Successful people are not weighed down by the usual. Those who are fortunate enough to capture their bliss and enjoy their dreams have nothing of the common and everyday. They are too busy living. They are bathing in the extraordinary, having their senses constantly tickled and their worries gently massaged away.

You can’t find that sort of living if you’re stuck in the usual.

But if you can’t, then where can you?

If there is no joy or magic where we are, then those things must be where we are not. That’s a bit vague, I know. Still, it seems all we need. In fact, that vagueness lends a bit of excitement to the search, and that’s what happiness is—a search. A quest to skip the usual for the big moments.

And where will that search lead? Now there’s a question. Some people think it doesn’t really lead anywhere. “The joy is in the going, not the getting there,” they say. I wonder about that. I wonder if there can be any joy in any going if you’re not going to end up anywhere. If that’s true, wouldn’t the going get old? Wouldn’t that search become the usual? Wouldn’t that just lead us back to where we started?

It all seems a little confusing to me, this searching for happiness. And since true happiness comes from God and is freely given, making it so hard to find doesn’t seem to be His style.

Which leaves only the option that we’ve gotten it all wrong.

Maybe my son is on to something. Maybe happiness isn’t Somewhere. Maybe it’s Here. Right where we are.

If our level of happiness can be best measured by the distance between the life we have and the life we want, why not just want what we have?

We have the usual. Our lives are filled with it. And having a lot of something doesn’t necessarily make it any less valuable. The usual is where memories are made, after all. Where relationships are cemented. Where bonds grow deeper.

God allows the extraordinary events of our lives to show us who we are, but He allows the usual events to make us who we are. Which I guess proves this: none of us are too big for the little moments.

Billy Coffey writes about Christian living. Visit his blog at http://www.billycoffey.blogspot.com 

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