Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why Extraordinarily Ordinary?

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

~Naomi Shihab Nye, "Famous"

A friend told me today that, barring a major miracle, she will be saying goodbye to her mother in the coming months. And maybe it's because my heart is so heavy for her, or maybe it's because my daughter is at a sleepover and my son is asleep in his bed early tonight, or maybe it's because when looking for a stapler this weekend I stumbled upon some things I hadn't forgotten about, but had forgotten that I had put them there, but I feel the need for a weeknight post of the random rambling type. Anyway, what I stumbled upon was this:
10 years worth of journals. Because outside of this blog, I keep a journal. Where I document it all. In high school and even for the first year or so of college, I kept journals, but when I'd fall out of the rhythm of writing in them, I'd rip out all of the pages, throw them away, and start all over when I decided to restart that rhythm. But for whatever reason, the journal at the top of the picture, which starts on March 8, 2002, marks the beginning of NOT ripping out those pages, even if months lapsed in between entries. That journal on the bottom? Last used on 4/11/12. Oddly enough, it only has a couple of pages left. Looks like I'll be starting a new journal with a new decade.

Anyway. It's all in there-- the good, the bad, and the ugly. And were my own children to someday discover that they only had months to prepare for a final goodbye, I'd give them these. And if they read them, I think they would find that my life was extraordinarily ordinary. And it's the only way I'd want it described.

Because I'm not famous and have not lived that life. Because in all likelihood, I will never be famous. At least not in the way we think of famous in our society.

But today I thought of my friend and her mom. And I thought about that Naomi Shihab Nye poem-- one of my favorites. And I thought about how her mom is famous to her. And my mom is famous to me. And isn't that what we all want as moms? To just be famous to our kids?

And I thought about these journals that I've kept for 10 years. And how one day, under circumstances yet to be determined, my kids will either be given or will find these journals. And as their fingers turn the pages (whether they read every word or not), I hope my extraordinarily ordinary life will be famous to them. If nothing else, they might enjoy the sermon notes I've taken at church each Sunday in those journals or the photographs I've included-- some of them, or the magazine or newspaper articles I've clipped out, or maybe they'll enjoy the list of each book I've read that year that I keep in the back.

If you've hung in with me on this long post until this point, I'll share a few details from the past decade:
  • "Fire drill at midnight last night. Yuck! Anyway, needless to say, I forewent the shower this morning and went to work with semi-greasy hair and an oily face. And guess who came in? E. I was just like, please don't look at me, I'm gross." ~3/20/02 (I worked the early shift at the dining hall and E used to come have breakfast there, even though it was totally out of his way)
  • "After formal, we sat on the Stoddard study lounge couch and he asked me out." ~4/21/02 (and it's been pretty much wonderful ever since)
  • "I bought myself a present...a guitar...I know G, D, Em, E, A, Am, and C chords." ~5/24/02 (Ummm...I think I remember G chord)
  • "Had a bonfire by the ocean tonight...BIG FUN!" ~6/28/03 (the summer I spent in Los Angeles)
  • "I survived my first day as a sub!" ~1/14/03 (I graduated college in December and subbed for half a year)
  • "So besides the crazies at Hap's yesterday celebrating St. Patrick's Day, there was another reason to celebrate...I GOT A JOB!" ~3/18/04 (still at that job today)
  • "I"ll be in Paris in an hour and a half...we ordered wine with our dinner on the plane." ~7/23/04 (written in flight on the way to our honeymoon in Paris, France)
  • "Well, I did it! I have officially made it through my first year of teaching!" ~6/1/05 (and still going strong)
  • "I have so much to be thankful for and I need to be happy with what I have and not let the clothes, homes, vacations, cars, and other things that other people have and I don't get me down." ~12/30/05 (yes, I did struggle a bit with entitlement and living large for awhile--told ya there was some ugly in there)
  • "We made it to London!" ~6/14/06 (yes, I was crazy enough to take a group of students on summer vacation)
  • "I still finished all 26.2 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes." ~2/4/07 (I had run the Disney Marathon about two weeks before in record breaking heat and with a foot injury halfway through)
  • "It's a girl!" ~9/7/07
  • "C is finally here!" ~2/6/08 (written the day after she was born)
  • "Baby B cooperated at our ultrasound last week and HE is perfect." ~8/19/10 (upon learning B would be a boy)
  • "Well, nothing ever turns out the way you plan. After 21 hours of labor on Wednesday and into Thursday morning, I got to 8cm and B stopped moving down. Around 3:30 am I started getting prepped for a c-section. At 4:13 on 12/23, B finally arrived in the world." ~12/25/10
  • "I'm amazed at what a difference a few weeks of preschool makes for her (C). She's so much more attentive at dance class...C seems to be enjoying preschool too." ~10/3/11
Thank you for sharing in my extraordinarily ordinary life. For letting me be famous to you. Tonight I'm praying for my friend. For her to feel she has enough time. For her mom to be pain free and to know she is famous to her daughters. Tonight I'm praying that we'd all embrace our ordinary lives and continue to live them in our extraordinary ways for however many days, weeks, months, or years we're given.
~One Ordinary Mom

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