Last night I attended an event at my daughter’s high school. She was receiving an award for academic success.
The awards ceremony took place in the school gymnasium.
There were two folding tables on one end of the gym for the principal and guidance counselors who read off the names and explained the significance of the award.
In the middle of the gym floor were two simple folding chairs set up to mark where the students were to walk.
The parents sat on bleachers on one side of the gym.
Before the ceremony, we ate a dinner of ground turkey tacos. On our way home, we got some ice cream. Nothing fancy, just a small treat to celebrate.
After returning home, I watched a few innings of the World Series before going to bed at 10pm (which is about all the later I can seem to stay up these days).
In almost every imagineable way, there was nothing extravagant about the night.
It seems to me there are three approaches I could have taken during the evening:
1. I could entirely unappreciate the night, begrudgingly attend the school event, and complain about the whole thing.
I could have been upset that I HAD to go out another night of the week.
I could have thought about how tired I was from work, how many things needed to be completed around the house, or how I just didn’t want to attend another thing.
Rare is the parent who would choose option #1 and begrudgingly complain about attending the night (although they do exist).
2. I could appreciate the beauty and meaning of the night for what it was.
The night was simple, but meaningful and beautiful.
There is a lot of beauty to be found in ordinary things.
3. I could daydream about how much better the night could have been with a few upgrades.
We could have gone out to eat for a steak dinner before the ceremony… that would have made the night even better.
They could have hired a professional speaker, local media personality, or special music for the event. They could have had a fancier queue line for the students… that would have been better.
We could have sat on more comfortable chairs than bleachers… that would have been better.
We could have chosen a fancier dessert, driven a newer car, or returned home to a bigger screen television. Certainly, any of those upgrades would have made the evening even more luxurious and enjoyable, right?
I could have spent the entire night looking for all the ways it could be better.
But what benefit does it give my life to do that?
How does it increase my happiness or joy in life to constantly think my life would be better if I just had x?
None, whatsoever. Nor would more comfortable chairs, a newer car, or fancier meal have changed the accomplishment and meaning of the evening.
Too often we miss the beauty of ordinary things by wishing for something better.
It is a gift to yourself to see the beauty of ordinary things. To not constantly look around you and your circumstances and dwell on all the ways your life would improve if it were upgraded.
Our world encourages discontent at every turn and our minds too often embrace it. Even though it seems unwise to discount the beauty right in front of us, we do it all the time.
We wish the house was bigger, the restaurant was fancier, the vacation was more exotic, or the television was larger.
We wish the furniture was fancier, the clothes were more fashionable, the phone was upgraded, or the mode of transportation was more luxurious.
We wish the boss was more understanding, the weather was warmer, the stomach was flatter, or the bank account had more zeroes.
But when we live life constantly desiring more and better, we miss the beauty of the ordinary right in front of us.
It is one thing to work to improve your lot in life. It is something completely different to miss the beauty and blessings of the life you are currently experiencing.
Wise is the man or woman who chooses to see them.