I once received a free pin that proclaimed “Happy Day After Christmas!”
Its purpose was promotional; some band I liked was releasing a new album that day if I recall. Though this happened a long time ago, the statement on that pin stuck with me over the years because of its rather comical and unusual call for celebration on one of the most notoriously boring days of the year… the ordinary, unglamorous day after Christmas. The average day never looks as dull as it does on December 26th.
But when we stop to consider it, most of life is lived on those “Day After Christmas” kinds of days, the back-to-business, humdrum routine of normal everyday life. After milestone moments and emotionally high experiences there’s something decidedly unsexy about the leftovers, homework, laundry, diapers and basement workouts which fill the days following.
In a world of social media snapshots and small talk sound-bites it’s tempting to live rushing from milestone to milestone. We press on, waiting for the next grand “episode of interesting” to enter our lives so we can tell others about it. We want to graduate, accomplish, publish, marry, complete, conquer, give birth or celebrate. How badly we just want to be on the perpetual “other side” of our journeys and processes.
The truth is “Day After Christmas” days are the days that really count.
It’s not what we do, feel and think on the occasional day or season of life that changes us. It’s the choices we make in the unglamorous now, and then again in the rather boring tomorrow, and after that amidst the pretty average day following that forge the directions of life.
Consistency isn’t sexy, but it is effective.
Contrary to what I often hear, I’m not sure it’s suffering or success that defines us. Instead, I wonder if the way we handle ourselves in those big moments is simply a result of what’s been quietly growing in our lives over the years, the result of who we are when no one reminds us how to act, when there’s no applause, no encouragement, no fan far or social support.
I suspect it’s on those very days that something important hangs in the balance; the great C.S Lewis put it like this,
“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself.
To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness.
Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”
It’s in the right-now moments between the milestones of life that we’re buried waist-deep in the work of becoming.
As we commute, we’re becoming.
As we work at desk-jobs, we’re becoming.
As we read one more bedtime story to over-tired little ones, we’re becoming.
As we have conversations and make plans, we’re becoming.
As we eat meals, run errands, drink coffee and play sports, we’re becoming.
As we wait for the next milestone, all the while, we’re becoming.
With every heartbeat we decide just what that becoming will be, each breath an invitation to do the next right thing. It all counts. We don’t need to wait for the attention or emotion of a milestone to really live because in the unglamorous now we already are.
So who are you becoming in the unglamorous right-now of this ordinary day?
What might you need to start and what might you need to stop in favor of further becoming?
Maybe you need to stop aiming for perfection, stop trying to be it all. Maybe you need to stop avoiding and secret keeping. Maybe you need to stop relentlessly comparing and competing with those around you.
Maybe you need to start saying more no’s or more yes’s. Maybe you need to forgive yourself. Maybe you need to start participating more and consuming less.
Whatever it is, enjoy the work of becoming in the unglamorous nows of life.
Kelly Kershaw is a freelance writer, occasional blogger, and heart-of-the-matter conversation enthusiast. She calls the buzzing suburbs of Philadelphia home, where she enjoys life alongside her wonderful husband Rob. To read more, follow her blog at kellykershaw.com.