I don’t know why I like alliteration so much. (Though this how-to-blog post offers a clue: “Step 9: Pick a catchy title. Then, work on making your title sexy — whether it’s through strong language, alliteration, or another literary tactic.”) I can’t even remember what it’s called most of the time. Literary terms are another one of those things that I never memorized properly, like the phases of cell division. I may have once known them for an exam, but they are long gone. Which just reinforces my desire to teach for understanding. As Seth Godin says, “There is zero value in memorizing anything ever again. Anything that is worth memorizing is worth looking up.” For the record, I agree; but I digress.
I recently posted a blog about my 25th new experience for my 50th year. So I’m halfway through the experiences, and slightly more than halfway through the year. That has really made me think about how difficult it is to do things that are really new. I’m in a new city, working at a new job, and yet the “new” experiences are few and far between. This has also inspired me to try a little harder to identify and partake in new experiences.
As I mused, I also did a little reading. I did some catching up on some of my favorites including Zen Habits and Bold Living Today. Then I discovered Wait, but Why?, which has consumed a fair number of non-working minutes the last couple days.
It seems that we are indeed creatures of habit. Our days look much the same as one another. As long as we accept this, and make the most of those similar days, with their ordinary activities, well-known rhythms, and familiar faces, this is OK. The problems come when we fixate on some better future or unfulfilled past at the expense of appreciating the day at hand.
During the musing period, I received an email from my mentor. A former colleague of his, with whom I had shared many ACS (American Chemical Society) local section and Council meetings and one memorable cab ride from DCA to ACS, had passed away on her 50th birthday. Though the news was not unexpected–she had fought a long battle with cancer–hearing it was a powerful reminder not to take health, life, or any ordinary day for granted.
I’m going to continue to pursue new experiences (and write about them), but I’m also going to try harder to appreciate every “ordinary” day. One of the gifts of the gap year was coming to understanding that what really matters is how we spend our day-to-day life–not the crowning achievements, but the usual tasks, the common interactions, and the ordinary moments.