Making Peace with Your Boring Life

I love the sentiment printed on the journal above. You’d think I would have purchased the journal right then and there, but I whipped out my camera phone in the middle of Target and got this photo instead.

Not only am I cheap, but I’m also boring. I’m an extreme homebody with a very uneventful life. So why the heck would I possibly want to taste life twice?

My mundane existence is even more noticeable for me as a writer who relies on real-life experience to inspire the topics of my bi-weekly blog posts. My constant prayer to God is that something crazy will happen to me each week, like discovering that my husband is pregnant or something. (That’s 9 whole months of interesting blog posts, plus a reality TV show after the baby is born.)

But then I’m reminded of the advice given to memoir writers by a dude named Ta-Nehisa Coates who said:

Accept the limitations and boredom of your life as the challenge of writing. Accept your profound lameness as the wages of your craft. The problem is never that your life isn’t interesting enough, it’s that you aren’t looking (or writing) hard enough.

So at work, during orientation week at my new job as a Bereavement Coordinator for a hospice, I tried to experience my boring life with fresh, eager eyes.

I shadowed a young, tattooed, geek-chic Chaplain as she visited elderly people to offer company and spiritual support. There was something so accessible, warm, and human about her– the exact type of person you’d want visiting Grandma– and I knew in an instant that I wanted to be friends with this lovely soul. (Said instant was when she obliviously began driving out of the parking lot with her back door wide open, and I realized she’s my twin.)

We met up at one of our hospice’s nursing home facilities. Our music therapist was singing and playing piano in the TV room, surrounded by quiet old folks slumped over in their wheelchairs.

But there were some lively people too. Like the one lady who, at 10:30 am during the chorus of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, screamed out “Is it time for dinner?”

Then was the old lady in the faded magenta sweatshirt who paced the room barefoot for 20 minutes until she found a locked janitor’s closet that she spent an additional 10 minutes trying to open. When she realized she was trapped with her peers in this hell hole she stopped pacing, although I was fairly certain she’d try to escape again tomorrow.

I left wondering if I’d end up like them. Would I look back on my life of 80+ years and feel satisfied with the choices I made, even if I ended up screaming out for dinner at 10:30am, or trying to brake into locked closets? Would there be people to care for me?

I needed to know.

There’s so much in life that we cannot control, especially as we grow older and begin to decline. But I do believe that we can control whether or not we’ll look back at a life well-lived. I believe we can develop the ability to be at peace with what our life was, even when it’s almost over. And I believe that the ability to be at peace is something we could be practicing now, through presence, gratitude, and boundless hope.

But back to our boring lives.

You’ve probably done a few interesting things in your life, but it’s probably not much different from that of the average Joe. But you know what? Maybe the best part of your (and my) ordinary existence is who we meet, who we love, who we serve, and how these people change us. And maybe we won’t appreciate just how extraordinary this truly is until we’re slumped over in wheelchairs. But why wait?

Your Turn: What’s the best part of your boring life?

Photo Credit

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6 Responses to Making Peace with Your Boring Life

  1. Brian says:

    How can my life be boring with you asking me all these “deep” and “life changing” questions at night as I try to go to sleep?

  2. Sheryl says:

    I used to think the only way to make my life worthwhile was to do something “big”. Big enough to be remembered widely, and not just by my own little community. Like write a classic that people read two thousand years later. Or designing the pyramids. Or being the first person on Mars. Then I started contemplating how long even that lasts and asking myself questions like “is it better to be Homer, and be the brilliant writer whose work we read but whose life we know nothing about, or to be the person who inspired one of those myths and have my life live on in a very distorted sense”. After which I started contemplating the briefness of the Earth in comparison to the timespan of the universe and much existential angst ensued because how could I possibly do something “big” enough to be remembered past the end of humanity and wasn’t I just destined to be as small and meaningless as everyone else because even the biggest contributors and the greatest minds end up fading into the giantness of time.

    Lately I’ve been much smaller in my hopes and I’m much more at peace with the scale of human life. Learning the Hindu equation of the soul helped. Realizing that I’m a private enough person that I wouldn’t actually enjoy a lot of the public nature helped. Falling in love and realizing that making something beautiful out of that helped. Realizing that I’m happiest when I let myself be content doing relatively small but meaningful to me helped. Is the ambition and the desire to achieve still there? Yes, to an extent but I’ve also realized it’s a yearning that for me comes out of a desire to truly understand the nature of everything and that some things just aren’t possible. With all that in perspective maybe my life is boring, but no more or less so than anyone else’s.

    • Kimberly says:

      Yeah, I think there is confusion between legacy (like raising children, or contributing something important to your community or field of work) vs. fame. There’s also confusion between living a meaningful life vs. an outwardly impressive one. One of the things I loved best about living through my late 20′s and early thirties is, like you, I came to know what I *truly* want and need vs. what I thought I did.

      In the end I think what we’re all aching to know is: Will my life ever feel full, and when I’m gone will my life have mattered? Big questions with no boring answers, that’s for sure.

  3. Allie says:

    I just finished putting together and sending out my life summary of 2012- a compendium of photos of the year with a bit of narration. *I* feel like I didn’t do much last year- there was so much more I should have, could have done- and that’s made me strive to put things on the calendar for 2013, reinvigorated for new goals and challenges.
    In response to my email I received numerous “omg- you did so much!” (with an undercurrent of “I would love your life”) replies, with an additional “you’re ridiculous” response from my husband…
    I think maybe everyone views their life as boring, at least to a certain extent. I mean, we all have struggles, we all plod on through some variation of a routine, and the majority of our minutes are taken up by little things which seem/can be insignificant (“oooh- you’ll never believe it- i vacuumed/brushed my teeth/ate today!”). We can become desensitized to our lives, trapped within our own perspective/frame of reference- “this is just me and the way things are”- rather than “omg- i’ve done so much!”

    • Kimberly says:

      Hi, Allie! Very true, the value of your life is more noticeable when you take a step back, like with your 2012 life summary. I just don’t want to wait until the end of my life, or even the end of a year, to feel grateful, happy, and satisfied with what I’ve done. I’m thinking a review of the best blessings of one’s day, done just before going to sleep each evening, would be an exercise that encourages this. Now that I think of it, this might be a nice nighttime routine for couples, or parents and their kids, to do together before bed.

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