when it feels like it doesn't matter
I'm sitting in the darkness, at the end of another day. I turn the TV off and sit in the quiet. I think about tomorrow - how we're just going to do it all again I think about today. It feels like nothing that I did today mattered. I pray God, help me to understand the meaning of these ordinary days as I think through the things we did today.
It was a good day, but we didn't do anything significant. Ordered groceries again, watched a friend's kids for an hour or so. We practiced our shapes and writing letters. Nothing significant learned, no mountain-top moments. Just the splash of another penny in the pool. Today was just a penny of a day. Nothing much.
And in the quiet of the night, I think about my oldest Beth, who will be sixteen in a couple of months. When she arrives at her birthday she will have lived for 5,840 days. I tried to imagine what 5,840 pennies would look like.
And then I had this slow dawning realization about the value of the accumulation of all of these days. All of the ordinary days I have spent with her. Not all of them were great, but a lot of them were good.
I also thought of the blessing of the smallness of the impact of an ordinary day, when the ordinary day is ordinarily terrible. You know, the day when you're sick and you basically lay on the couch with the TV on and throw snacks at your kids. What a blessing that those days are just a penny off of the pile and not more. The blessing of the accumulation of small ordinary things.
The thing of it all is the accumulation of days. The accumulation of good days and bad days. One good day isn't going to fix the accumulation of years of neglect but one bad day doesn't wreck years of being a good mom. One bad day doesn't put us so far into the red that we'll never recoup. It's the accumulation of days.
I sometimes want my days to be hundred dollar days. I want them each to be snowflake-special with memories and impact and felt individual significance. And yet there is beauty in the accumulation of small ordinary moments.
I was looking at my son Eli this morning, noticing how tall he has grown. I thought when did he get so big?! And I realized he simply grew a fraction of an inch every day. He grew imperceptibly day by day by day until he could stand at the kitchen table on his long gangly legs and play on the iPad.
As I have been writing my book I have noticed this too - that it has been a lot of small moments that added up to writing a book, with very few "big moments" of writing or revelation. Just a few minutes here and there that added up to a project nearly finished. I have especially noticed how much I have grown as a person through the last couple of years and how that growth has happened a fraction of an inch at a time.
I don't know if maybe you feel like this sometimes too - like your days are all ordinary and insignificant and your growth is imperceptible at best, non-existent at worst. So I am just going to leave it here, (because I'm going to need to remind myself of this again before long) the small things matter.
P.S. the picture above is from a weekend last fall - the weather here in the Deep South is still swelteringly hot. But it seemed like a calm and quiet, ordinary moment.
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