One side of my family publishes a quarterly newsletter. Even though most of us are on Facebook and can see what’s happening in each other’s lives, some aren’t, and even so, we all enjoy reading what everyone has to say and how they say it. Since I’m the one that compiles all the news and jams it all into a PDF, I’m the first to read the updates.
One thing I noticed this time around was that a lot of people stated that they didn’t have any news, that nothing much had been going on in their lives. This is such an interesting statement because I think that everything matters. Perhaps what we use to measure has denigrated our sense of what is important to the point that we no longer know what is good and lovely.
No longer an agrarian society, our very survival is no longer dependent upon our daily tasks. When planting, weeding, harvesting, butchering, and putting by made the difference between eating and starving to death and chopping wood made the difference between being warm or freezing to death during winter, it was clear that every single task we accomplished was gravely important.
Today our daily tasks look much different and the connection between what we do for a living and what we need to survive is blurry. As we’ve moved up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we have the luxury of being able to spend our time on things other than procuring our basic needs of food, water, clothing, shelter, and safety. It’s this gap between the way it was and the way it is today that seems to make us think that what we do day in day out is not worth mentioning.
Let’s not forget that we are children, spouses, parents, role models, teachers, mentors, friends, bosses, employees, co-workers, and yes, even saints. What if we recognized that the breakfast we cooked for our kids, the boo-boo we kissed on a toddler’s knee, the smile we gave a stranger, the employee we coached, the call we made to our Dad, the child we taught to dribble a basketball, the email we wrote to a friend, the dog we fed, the meal that we dropped off for the grieving family, the Sorry game we played with the kids before bed, and the big tip we gave the waitress wasn’t just another mundane thing we did because we had to, but that it mattered to us, to people we care about, and for generally making the world a better place?
Conversely, what if we recognized that cutting off the person on the highway, avoiding the annoying person at work, ignoring the homeless man on the corner, forgetting to call our Mom, not forgiving that ex-spouse, all the things that we rationalize and justify, also matters to us, to people, and makes the world a much worse place?
Would that change how we do even the most inconsequential tasks? Would we:
Be more patient with our kids?
Take time to talk to our friends?
Remember to call our parents?
Drive a little less recklessly?
Exchange a smile with a stranger?
Play just one more game?
Forgive that person who wronged us?
Every day we receive the gift of twenty-four hours. And what we do with every minute of that gift matters.