This I Believe

Nan - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Entered on May 22, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: family, gratitude

I believe in daily life. I believe in walking the dog, bringing in the mail, taking out the trash, and stopping for milk on the way home. I believe in reading the opinion page, putting in a full day of work, talking to the fat guy at the bus stop, and celebrating a proper cocktail hour. I believe in staying for the whole game, listening to the words, and making soup from leftovers. I edit scientific papers for a living. My days are full of results and conclusions, comma placement and sentence structure. I believe that these things matter.

Every life event carries the burden of continuous maintenance. One day you’re waltzing blissfully with the love of your life; the next day you realize it’s all about breakfast cereal and getting the oil changed. You get all excited about a new job and then there you are, drinking bad coffee in the late afternoon and waiting for the computer guy. Your family and friends bring food and attend the funeral, but you live with a hole in your life every day thereafter. And childbirth? That’s when I learned that life happens on the level of the daily.

My sons, walking long-legged and grinning from my daily life into their own, remind me that the days string together into lifetimes, and the lifetimes into generations. But none of us lives long enough to give up very many days to inattention. My husband looks forward, for which I am grateful. Our days together are characterized by a comfortable predictability, based on a shared understanding of the importance of dinnertime.

Mine is a basic secular humanist approach. I believe that the path to enlightenment passes through the grocery store aisles. Truth and beauty hang on the hooks in your laundry room. Joy isn’t about what happens to you when you die; it’s about getting the meatloaf right. Meaning comes not from adherence to ancient creeds but from the extent to which you approach your fellow travelers on Earth as individuals with thoughts and feelings who love their families and enjoy a good laugh same as you.

Daily life is made up of all our actions and interactions and our interpretations of them. Conscious immersion in daily life is a meditation, a ritual, an experience of grace, a declaration of faith in its worth. Daily life is what we have and what we know. I believe that the significance we attach to daily life defines our existence.