My Quiet, Unsexy Life

Sitting on the kitchen counter

Sitting on the kitchen counter

I said, "You know how we kind of have this fantasy about what other people's lives are like?"

"Yes, I know exactly," she said.

"Well, lately I feel like my life isn't living up to my own fantasy of what it should be like."

I've had this feeling a lot lately, just being struck over and over again by the vast ocean of ordinary and mundane that makes up a life and noticing our impatience with it. I tell myself when I watch a prime time drama that it's not real--that so much paperwork and down time and trips to the laundromat are omitted for the sake of pacing and focusing the audience on the main event: the action.

But I am still amazed when I can spend days--days--doing paperwork and entering numbers into spreadsheets, and cleaning and mopping and picking blankets and socks up off of the floor, sweeping up stray peas and rice grains in the kitchen.

I don't know what we hope for, exactly--I don't know what I was hoping for. Maybe for it to feel glamorous or important a little more often, perhaps that I would get a pass to drift through life in an inspired artist fog. That I would graduate from being concerned with such ordinary things.

But the opposite seems to be true. The more my work grows, the more systems I need, the more routines and spreadsheets and bookkeeping days, the more diligent I have to be about things like calendars and reminders. I actually need more time to care for my body because I'm learning how essential is my wellness, and I need my home and studio space to be clear of unnecessary things, so there is space for both the miraculous moments and for the quiet, unsexy tasks to be executed in a space of beauty and peace.

My husband returns today from a week away at a conference, and I have been doing the ordinary tasks for two in his absence. The other night I went to bed at 8:30 and fell asleep promptly. On Sunday night we will go to one of my shows, and I will emerge from an ocean of school bus delays and play dates and bank statements and way too much Miss Marple playing in the background for my own good and step for a few minutes into a spotlight, onto a shore.

For five minutes or maybe a few hours it will might feel glamorous, or even important, and I will savor every second before coming back home to the quiet and the unseen moments that make up the rest of this beautiful life.