Last night, I was reading an essay entitled “Longing for Normalcy” from the book, “A Merry Recluse”, by the late Caroline Knapp. The essay starts out with this:
“I would like to take Ordinary Joe lessons.
Can anybody out there help me?
I want to be a regular working stiff, a card-carrying member of Middle America, a nameless, faceless member of the teeming masses.
Do you know what I mean? Do you yearn for this, as well? If so, you probably understand that this is an elusive goal, more elusive than it sounds. It’s about lying awake nights and wishing for a kind of simplicity that feels out of your reach most of the time. It’s about longing for a humility ofspirit, a perspective that brings your expectations down to manageable levels. It’s about wanting to rest, about wanting to stop striving to be the things you’re not and (big sigh of relief here) just be.”
She goes on to say that “This goal–the normal life, the Ordinary Joe–has eluded me. I think, because I grew up thinking that normalcy was bad, that being ordinary was an unworthy goal.” and talks about how this is possibly a result of being raised in an environment that was over-advantaged and rarified. She also says, “When you’re constantly striving for perfection, constantly measuring yourself against ideals, you lose access to a lot of simple feelings, a lot of humanity; you lose access to ease and joy and fun, to a sense that you’re living in the present and that, for the moment at any rate, the present is good enough.”
I know that an awful lot of folks have a hard time around the holidays, and I’m sorry for that. For whatever strange reason, I still have a childlike wonder, an exuberance about Christmas (and it’s not like I’ve led a fairytale life, believe me). Some people stress out about the money or lack thereof; some about finding the “right” or “perfect” gift; some about the crowds; some about how hard it is to live up to their loved ones’ expectations. I’m sorry for them, and I wish they could see things through my eyes. Of course, many of those people would believe that I’m too simple, or unrealistic, or not very intelligent, because I don’t [normally] get upset or anxious or worry much. I do have stress in my life, but it’s of the type that I really can’t do anything about…and I’d rather not generate more for myself in the middle of this beautiful time of year or in fact at ANY time.
My wish is that each and every one of you have a sense of ease, and of joy, and of fun not just during this season of miracles, but through out the entire year.
Today I saw:
a freshly cut christmas tree on the roof of someone’s car
Christmas Vacation-style decorated house (I’ll have to take a picture of that for y’all!)
a multicolored Christmas tree inside someone’s home
a white lights Christmas tree inside someone’s loft
and I smiled