Words to live by …

Do not ask your children

to strive for extraordinary lives.

Such striving may seem admirable,

but it is a way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder

and the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting

tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry

when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure

in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.

The extraordinary will take care of itself.

I cannot tell you how much I love this. A fellow WordPress blogger and Facebook friend of mine recently posted it on her timeline; and I haven’t been able to get

it out of my mind. It was written by William Martin and it’s an excerpt from his book, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching.

Quite frankly, I don’t think this should be restricted to what parents do for their children. I think this is something we should all strive for. Each and every one of us. Young and old.

In some ways, it’s just another way of expressing what I’ve been trying to say for a while now. I look around and I’m dismayed by what I see. As a society we seem to have lost touch with what really matters. We’re self-absorbed. We’re no longer interested in any points of view, other than our own. We’re disinterested in the people around us — their needs, their fears, their hopes, their rights. We’re prepared to trample all over them to get to the prize we have our eye on. We call it ambition. Really it’s greed. Greed for power, greed for money, greed for a promotion, greed for material goods. Greed to marry better, live grander, bear smarter children, be more successful. Greed for envy; and by that I mean, we want others to envy us.

Greed for what we consider to be ‘extraordinary’. Our misguided impression of ‘extraordinary’.

And it seems we have no idea, or interest, in what we’ve lost in the process.

We’ve become indifferent, desensitized. To the suffering that’s in plain sight. To the injustice staring us in the face. To the imbalance that surrounds us.

We’ve become indifferent. To the beauty that’s everywhere, if only we’d look. A friend of mine has gone home to the UK, on a holiday, to visit family. Everyday he goes on long walks and then he posts the most glorious photographs. Of flowers and butterflies. Quaint villages and breathtaking vistas. Bales of hay and miles and miles of freshly-mown grass. I’ve become addicted, I can’t wait for the next one; and the next and the next. I told him I’ll be sorry when his vacation is over.

Really, what he’s doing is “finding the marvel in ordinary life”. It’s that simple, you know. And, what he’s sharing is what he’s seeing; and experiencing and feeling. His camera has become his eyes which, in turn, have become mine. And suddenly he’s making “the ordinary come alive”. And it is extraordinary.

It’s in all of us, you know. The ability to step back and ask ourselves if that’s why we’ve been put on this earth. If we really want to squander this precious time we’ve been given. If there isn’t pleasure and satisfaction to be found in simplicity and authenticity. In the sound of laughter. In the explosion of flavour when you chew on a sweet, juicy orange segment. In a hug. In a glass of ice cold water when you’re hot and parched. In a shared smile. In having enough. In knowing when enough is enough. When enough is more than enough.

You know, when you think about it, and I mean really think about it, it doesn’t seem ordinary at all.


12 thoughts on “Words to live by …

  1. “Show them how to cry, when pets and people die” on the day that’s in it this is most apt Fransi. R.I.P. Robin Williams. Everyone who reads this post I believe should share it in some form or another.

    • Thank you Chris, yes, I lnow, so so sad. The man who made the world laugh couldn’t bring joy to himself. Terrible, terrible.

  2. Nicely put. And perfect for today. We all need to do our part to be a bit kinder to each other, be more aware of those around us, and try to help lift each other up. Selfishly, I’m trying to do everything I can do to be extraordinary for the people around me. That’s because I get way more than I give. Thank you for your words.

  3. Fransi – this is so true and so beautifully expressed. I was walking my dog yesterday, as usual, and the sun was just setting. I stopped several times to watch the way the light was hitting the mountain in this direction, the clouds in that direction…just captivated and moved by the light and the color…

    I’m grateful when I can slow down and notice the everyday delights and I hope I gave both my daughters this gift. I think so.

    • Thank you Lucia. Judging from Elizabeth’s writing I’d say there’s no doubt that you passed that gift to your daughters. No doubt at all. I am glad your walk was filled with beauty and it gave you joy. I actually love sunsets and also sunrises. The colours are always so exquisite.

  4. Love the poem and if you can forgive me for taking some space, I do want to share a quote from Albert Einstein that I have had posted on my office wall for the last 7 years. I don’t read it often but it does serve as an occasional reminder about priorities: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited by time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness…Our task must be to free ourselves from this [prison] by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” It just seemed appropriate with your post??? kate

    • Oh, I love it! It is absolutely appropriate. Thanks for sharing it. I will be adding it to my collection of inspirational quotes and messages.

  5. “Finding the marvel in ordinary life” — those words are going to stick with me. Lovely poem, too. What an important reminder for us all. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

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