This I Believe

Michelle - West Lafayette, Indiana
Entered on January 24, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: gratitude

More Than Regular

I believe in appreciating the ordinary. Every second week of each summer since the age 16, I’ve driven three hours to my Nana and Chuck’s farm. The first time I drove down, I was prepared with each street name, which way to turn, and approximately how many miles I would sit curiously anticipating the next street to sneak up. I was focused on arriving in one piece by surviving the maze of streets. The less I began relying on the directions, the more I sensed the people, the town, and the beauty. I began to look around and enjoy the ambiance of nature, observing my surroundings and recalling memorable sights. Driving down the flat streets surrounded by cornfields, I knew to turn left over the train tracks where the old ice cream parlor with candy cane columns sheltered the always occupied rocking chairs. I remembered to take a right where the old white wooden mailbox with the maroon decorated address reading The Gunthers was. I remembered the sour aroma of the halfway point influencing me to drive faster. The overfed cows grazing the farmer’s green sea, the big broken down tractor on the corner where the old slumping oak tree stood, and the world’s largest bug smacking onto my windshield were soon all known by heart. I was fascinated.

As I continued to travel down summer after summer, I no longer paid attention to the street names, the vibrant colors, the ice cream parlor, or the old oak. These had turned into the ordinary. The ride began feeling as if I had fallen into a coma, numb, and unable to be aroused by the beauty surrounding me. Unconsciously, I set about turning where I needed to, stopping at the occasional stop signs, and driving in the left lane only to realize that radiance and time were passing me by. The familiarity of the drive soon meant nothing to me. Colors all grey, fragrances unnoticeable, sights surpassed without reflection. By the time I arrived at the farm, the drive became so typical and meaningless that it simply became only that, a drive. The trip which was once an adventure turned as ordinary as any routine.

Although there are routines in life like brushing our teeth, waiting in the always expected line at Starbucks every morning, or the afternoon walk to our mailbox, these routines should never diminish becoming regular. There is something more than mundane about our hand muscles weak from waking in the morning and trying profusely to squeeze out the last bit of toothpaste. Something special about the smell of the cinnamon sprinkled on to a stranger’s cappuccino seeming as sweet and warm as that homemade apple pie you always wished you could make. There is something exciting about the way the mailbox anticipates its opening as you search in excitement for that always random letter from an old friend. These all become less regular when we appreciate their existence, and our existence for all extraordinary experiences.