When I went to grad to school, one of the most valuable things I learned was that I needed to keep a writing notebook. The notebook was not a space to create and edit and finish an essay or any piece for that matter.
Side note: I do not believe that a piece is ever finished. It is always up for further review. Works of words can change over time. There may be revisions. At least this is true for this writer.
The writing notebook was introduced to me as a teaching tool that I could offer students when helping to develop writing confidence and skills. I have several of these notebooks now scattered throughout my house, in various purses and vehicles, and on my phone. It is in these notebooks I quickly jot down ideas that come, words that cause me to think a bit differently, phrases I like, quotes I want to remember and more. I could buy little notebooks and journals every day and I think it’s because I want more ideas to come, I want to hear more words that will shape me and I really see pages that are waiting for words to be put on them. Again, these are not daily log journals or my gratitude journal or a diary. Although I like those too. These are words written down so they have time to simmer, so to speak. They are written so there is time to see if there will be extra that comes from those ordinary moments of thought or experience.
I was looking back for one such notebook where I knew I had jotted down a moment that I had titled “Extra from the Ordinary”. The phrase has stuck with me since last November (this is a relatively short simmer for me) and I wanted to reread what else I had written in response to a moment in time. I knew the event it was connected to, but I wanted to know the words. I smiled as I read them and could see the precious face that spoke to me that day and spurred me to think about extra in the ordinary.
Driving home alone from Kansas City last fall I stopped at a gas station in Platte City. It had been a week with tiring emotions and I wasn’t sure I would be able to participate in the adventure that had been planned. At the last moment, I went and enjoyed my time, but I was tired as I drove home. I was still running tracts in my mind of many conversations. Conversations that included events that were not to be shared and conversations of the adventure just shared. I stopped for caffeine. 🙂 Stopping to get gas and a soda is quite ordinary. Deciding to get some chocolate is also quite ordinary, for me. As I stood looking at the candy selection, feeling rather weary, a beautiful young lady stopped, looked at me and said, “I hope you’re having a good day.” This young girl was probably 10-12 years old and had the purest smile. It was such a contrast from the typical “how are you” or “how’s it going” phrases we use. The words themselves were ordinary, but there was something extra in those ordinary words. The phrasing and the giving of those words were offered without asking anything from me. She wasn’t asking a question. She was offering me a wish, a hope. Her comment did not demand a response. It was a gift. I did respond with a hushed, “Thank you. You just made it better.” It was an ordinary moment where I was given something extra. She stated her wish without expectation and it was so tender.
Much of life is made up of the ordinary. Much of life is made up of routine. It is easy to forget how much extra there is in the day and in a moment. There is a great deal of extra in the ordinary and the routine. It is easy to forget what is always there, the things we have come to expect to the point of forgetting how extra ordinary and extraordinary they are.
As I will do repeatedly in this blog, for as long as it continues, I will share words from another writer. I see no need to rewrite, as in reword, what has already been crafted. G.K. Chesterton (always worth reading in my opinion) wrote:
We should always endeavor to wonder at the permanent thing, not at the mere exception. We should be startled by the sun, and not by the eclipse. We should wonder less at the earthquake, and wonder more at the earth.
I hope you will consider Chesterton’s directive. I will refrain from expounding on it (and that is taking some extraordinary willpower on my part) and simply ask that you consider it.
I’m encouraged to look for the extra, appreciate the extra, be thankful for the extra and to share the extra in the ordinary. That beautiful child continues to touch my heart. On weary days, the extra gives me hope and joy. On days full of energy and life, the extra motivates me to give. I want to be a giver of the extra. I want a heart that gives without expectation. I’m thankful for the heart and grace of a child who for whatever reason, gave without asking.