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The Extra-Ordinary in the Ordinary

Updated: Jul 12


Photo by Kristine Cinate on Unsplash

Is it so small a thing

To have enjoyed the sun,

To have lived light in the spring,

To have loved, to have thought, to have done…”

Matthew Arnold


These lines caught my eye, reminding me, as I am swept up in life, that little things can in fact be big things.


Indeed, how many of us sail through life only to stop suddenly and look at ourselves wondering - what was that all about?


People tell me that they feel they have wasted their lives trying to please others or fulfil other people’s expectations. Another regular disappointment often revealed is the realisation that being immersed in work meant they missed out on any number of things, from enjoying their children growing up, to relishing a glass of wine or cup of tea whilst watching the sun go down. And for what? They never achieved the promotion or job title they had wanted or, if they did, it turned out to be a hollow mockery. Either way, it had all been a waste of time.


These experiences reinforce the importance of enjoying what is here, just as it is. Eckhart Tolle tells us it is not our life circumstances that make us unhappy, it is our response to them. How we think about the situation, rather than the situation itself, is the reason for our happiness or disquiet. It is becoming a bit of a hackneyed phrase, but by learning to live in the present moment, we give ourselves the chance to enjoy life as it happens, rather than in retrospect or worrying about our destiny. It is, as it is.


Lots of people are waking up to these ideas, discovering how liberating and sustaining it is to appreciate beauty in the less than obvious, the extra-ordinary in the ordinary, in the many things that we take for granted.


The more we accept that everything lasts only a period of time, both the bad and the good; when we allow ourselves to soak up the remarkable in the unremarkable; then the more life showers us with treasures to enjoy, moment by moment.


Do not ask your children

to strive for extraordinary lives.

Such striving may seem admirable,

but it is the way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder

and the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting

tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry

when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure

in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.

The extraordinary will take care of itself.

William Martin



Poems from: The Poetry Pharmacy Revisited - William Sieghart.

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