If you’re a human being, and if you’re reading this hopefully you are, you’ve experienced the normalization of something you once saw as exquisite or extraordinary. It happens in relationships, and the person you were enamored with five years ago now has more annoying habits than lovely characteristics. It happens in friendships, and the people who you clicked with instantaneously and shared all your dreams and hopes with over margaritas and queso are now more of a nuisance to try to make time for. It happens in our jobs, and that dream of growing within your company turns into endless cups of coffee as you stare zombie-like at a computer for nine hours a day. It happens with our surroundings, and that sunrise or the charming cafe down the street are now a passing part of your daily routine and environment, nothing more.
When do we get so used to the wonderful pieces that make up our lives? And, more importantly, how can we still find the beauty and magic in things that sooner or later become ordinary?
My siblings and I have a running joke with my mom (or, more accurately, about my mom) about how captivated she is by everything. No, really, everything. We’re not all in the same place often, but when we are, especially if it’s somewhere new (but not exclusively), you can bet money that my mom will enthusiastically say something along these lines about a dozen times a day: “Wow, what kind of tree do you think that is? It’s beautiful!” or “Look at how interesting that building is! What do you think it’s used for?” And then we will all look at each other and laugh and say we don’t know what the plant or the building or the car or the sign or the flower is.
My mom’s genuine curiosity is something we’ve turned into a joke, but really, it’s one of the best parts about her. And more than that, in situations with other people, I’ve caught myself saying, “Wow, what kind of tree do you think that is? It’s beautiful!” or “Look at how interesting that building is! What do you think it’s used for?” No matter how much fun you make of your parents, I promise you’ll turn into them in some way or another.
It’s special, actually, that she isn’t so jaded by what we might see as everyday, normal objects and occurrences, and she clearly isn’t deterred by her kids’ kidding. She wants to learn and understand and figure out these small parts of the world that many of us overlook.
This last week, I’ve been in Telluride, Colorado, with the family I nannied for in Nashville. I’m helping out and hanging out with my favorite toddler, who I may be borderline obsessed with, and also taking time to write, hike, and explore this quaint mountain town. We will be here until the end of July, but already I’ve felt my astonishment for the serenity and breathtaking backdrop shrink a little since I got here last Thursday. It’s not that I’m not enjoying my time; it’s that my appreciation for the small shows of beauty and fun all around me isn’t quite so apparent as it was even a handful of days ago.
Routines are a good thing for productivity and organizing our lives, but if we’re not careful, they can minimize all the wonder around us as we get into a clockwork-like groove. Here in Telluride, I wake up most mornings and go workout, either running on a gorgeous bike path or going to a cute pint-sized gym downtown, spend some time with the kiddo, get a little work done at whichever local coffee shop sounds good for the day while he naps, and help out with anything else in the afternoons and evenings. What a life, right? But it’s becoming more routine, and more…normal, or stagnant, even, every day.
Currently, I’m writing this blog post on a covered patio outside a teeny and adorable local bookstore, with an oak-milk latte sitting next to my computer, and thunder is rumbling distantly while rain sprinkles down on the town. It’s a much-needed rain (Telluride has been in a drought), and the cool, 65-degree weather that came with it is heaven for this girl whose home is in
the hottest depths of the underworld Texas. There are flower boxes with bright, fresh blooms and herbs covering the rail of the patio, and as I sat down to get out my computer, it came to me how unbelievably lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to come here.
I know this is a word we all make fun on Instagram, but it is a real blessing (#blessing) to get to witness the awesome work of God among me every day in these mountains and trails and even simply a view of trees from my bedroom window or the smell and sound of rain on a patio. Texas is great and everything (no, for real, I promise I like it there, too), but there’s a bit of magic in these sharp, verdant mountain ranges that surround this delightful town steeped in history.
How different would my life look if I started every day on this perch of gratitude, went into every conversation with this awe-filled wonder? Instead, I have noticed myself getting used to even the most exquisite of my surroundings. I do this with people and projects and silly things, like my phone, too. Ever get a new phone (or car or house or piece of furniture) and feel this immense sense of gratification for the newness of it? Nine months later, you might accidentally drop your phone and hardly flinch. It no longer has the special novelty because we have grown accustomed to it, by then.
It’s important, I think, to remember why: why we started, why we love the things we do, why we were curious about or interested in something originally, why we ask questions, why we got to the places we are — and not just physically. Why am I here in Telluride? Because I love the family I worked for, wanted to help them out, and wanted the opportunity to be among nature and travel somewhere new to observe and absorb all it has to offer. Why do I choose my partner every day? Because he cares more deeply for me than I ever thought was possible, cheers on all of my biggest aspirations, makes me laugh, and works toward a cohesive and lovely future with me. Why did I decide to take the path of being a writer? Because writing lifts my heart and soul, challenges me, fulfills me, and makes me happier than any other job.
Why do you love and what did you appreciate at first about the parts the make up your life? Your work, your home, your people?
Nothing about our lives is normal, even if pieces of it start to feel regular, mundane, or routine. But let’s vow to not get so used to it all, to find curiosity in little things, to remember every day the joy certain aspects of life once brought us, and to realize there was a reason those things brought us so much joy in the first place.