Some days it's really just too much to turn on the news. The atrocities committed by humanity are of seemingly apocalyptic proportions, and I can't help but wonder if the alien invasion portrayed in so many a science fiction film is actually upon us, with the alien having taken on the form of unfettered indulgence and hate.
On days like these, I wonder at the futility and banality of my blog. I feel guilt at my self-interest, at writing about how I'm striving and sometimes struggling to be happy and healthy. I try to imagine what others in dire straights might think if they happen across my silly musings. And I begin to fill up with shame; shame for my blessed life, shame at being born with a passport that allows me to travel freely, shame at having a healthy family, shame at living in a lovely house, shame at the ability to express myself openly, shame at my intact limbs, shame at my relatively scar-free spirit.
These are the days where I almost decide to chuck it all in for the worthless exercise it would appear to be. And these are the days I reel myself back in and tell myself to smarten up. These are the days when I tell myself that a little introspection, self-questioning, self-doubt, self-awareness and self-appreciation may be in short supply. These are the days I tell myself that little blogs like mine might be helping the author, maybe even the readers, reflect a little more and make slightly more positive choices as a result.
These are the days where I try to remind myself it's important to take control of what we can take control of; that every little bit does make a difference; that if all we focus on is the ugly of the sensational, we'll lose sight of the beauty that often shines from the ordinary.
It's like the scene outside your living room window; will you stop looking out forever if a hurricane passes by? Probably not. For a while you'll look out and focus on the destruction, on what's been lost, but chances are you'll eventually start to see little changes in the landscape, little blossoms appearing where the earth had been so violently turned over. And then, hopefully, you'll look out and see the ordinary landscape transformed by an amazing sunset. All of a sudden, that seemingly bleak terrain outside your front door will morph into a majestic view, magically filling you with hope.
I can't hide from the sensational events that feed the newswires these days, but I can choose to focus my sights on the glorious ordinary. There have been many such ordinary moments these days, starting with a recent community ALS Ice Challenge that Kiddo and I attended a week back.
About 100 ordinary expats and locals, on an ordinary beach, wearing ordinary clothes on an ordinary morning. Filipinos, Qataris, Canadians, New Zealanders, Brits, Indians, Dutch, Scots, Lebanese, Russians, and more. All sweating, all waiting, all donating, all finally drenching ourselves with sea water and ice, all shouting in unison, and all laughing and coming together in one small moment of solidarity, in one small gesture that allowed us to make a small difference in someone's world. Glorious ordinary.
I got a chance to talk to some labourers at their worksite this week. Men of all ages hailing mostly from the Subcontinent, toiling for long hours in the heat to earn the wages that will support their families back home. I got to listen to some of their concerns (through an interpreter). Some blinked back tears as they shared a few stories about 'back home'. We even got to share a few laughs. Glorious ordinary.
My ordinary days have continued on these past few weeks just as ordinarily as they have all summer. Working out, eating healthy, consciously stopping myself from shouting obscenities at the reckless driver who cuts me off blindly in traffic. I've started wearing my Fitbit Flex again over the last five days, and it's motivating me to take the stairs, get up from my desk and walk around the office a bit more, stopping to talk to colleagues and ask how their day's going so I don't feel like I'm wandering aimlessly. The Fitbit has started clocking in 5,000 steps daily in addition to morning walks and workouts, and it sends me little messages of encouragement and congratulations on my efforts. Glorious ordinary.
We organised a blood drive at work the other day. For the first time in my 44 years, I decided to stare my fear of needles in the eye and step up to the plate. I am now officially a blood donor. I stood in line to register with Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Asians, North Americans, Africans, Arabs, South Americans, Australasians. I lay in the mobile blood donation unit, my blood flowing out of me next to that of a tea boy and a chief executive. People like me, of different classes, sexes, races, cultures and religions, vied anxiously for the chance to better or save a life other than our own. Perhaps in some cases that was the only thing we had in common: our desire to make some minuscule difference. That, and the fact that we all bleed red. Glorious ordinary.
This is my blog. No sensationalism, no real excitement, no penchant for drama; no beheadings, no downing of planes, no civil war, no random shootings. Only the view from my living room window, sometimes on the inside looking out, sometimes on the outside looking in. Letting the little moments of majestic sunshine cast a shadow on the ugly so the glorious ordinary can shine bright.
Glorious ordinary, where we all bleed red.