What did you do last night? Last week? Last month? Throughout the past 30 years? Was it adventurous or exciting or novel worthy? Would someone be inclined to write a book about you and your adventures in this grand life?
On December 10, 1997, I turned 16. I was a small town farm girl ready to take on this big world. I thought, like most 16-year-olds, that big things were on the horizon for me. I wanted to live and breathe and experience adventure in my day to day life. I didn’t know what adventure meant. Was it a big stage full of big lights? Or perhaps something awaited me in a large city with huge buildings and opportunities at every turn? Whatever would become, I knew I was ready.
Here I am, years later, and I’m certain 16-year-old Leslie wouldn’t recognize this life. That’s the funny thing about age. Time has the tendency to make us look at the world differently. Experience and hopes and dreams change as we change.
I’m thankful for that. Maybe you are, too?
This week I wanted so badly to write something for you all that had meaning and wisdom and eloquence. The topics I choose most always reflect what happen in my day to day life. It’s how I write. It’s what I know. I’m not a scholar or a historian or a politician (thank God). I’m just a simple Nebraska girl who has been given a gift to write to you fine folks each week. Still, you need diversity. You have the right to read words that reflect something other than stories of my usual day to day life.
And so I thought and pondered all week on my column topic. Honestly, I don’t usually think about what I want to tell you. I just sit down and let the words flow as they seem fit. Sometimes it’s easy to write and sometimes, I wonder why I’ve earned the privilege to chat with you all. My life isn’t very exciting on paper. I live in a home only one hour from my childhood home. The buildings aren’t big here, unless you consider the grain elevator down the street or the church steeple up the road. I still have large student loans staring at me each month, a mortgage, credit cards bills and a dirty car.
What’s so exciting about this life? Certainly on paper in 1997, I would have cringed at the thought.
Maybe you would, too?
And then this week, life, as it most always does, smacks me in the face at the printing store.
“Leslie,” she said. “I love hearing about your girls. Keep those stories coming! The children are our future. Isn’t it wonderful?” said the kind stranger.
Her words, in the middle of the week, on that ordinary day, in that ordinary store, reminded me how awesome this routine life can be and how wonderful all stories can become. That’s the thing about ordinary. Between school, kids, work, supper, cleaning the toilets, and trips to the grocery store – amazing can happen. And it does, every single day.
Think about your life. I have a strong feeling it’s ordinary, too. But who said ordinary had to be boring? OK, I did, 18 years ago. But most teenagers think routine is boring. Someday they’ll know how amazing boring can be.
I know because I found it. I bet you have, too.
This week, look for the amazing in your day to day. Sometimes it’s hidden between bills or dirty dishes or piles of laundry. Sometimes a screaming kid or a barking dog or an angry neighbor can blind us from finding it. It’s there, whether you live in a big city, or down the road from your childhood home. You guys, it’s there. You just have to open your eyes to find it.
Perhaps Nicholas Sparks won’t consider your story worthy of a novel – but your kids will, your neighbor will, your friend will. Be proud of your ordinary. It’s yours and it’s incredible. And someone wants to hear it.