I am on a plane as I write this, traveling from Richmond, Virginia to Orlando, Florida for a three-day business trip. I am leaving the dead of winter in Richmond for the glorious 80-degree sunshine of Orlando. The business trip, while important, will not be particularly demanding. Golf is even on the agenda. Why, then, would I rather be in overcast Richmond?
I took one of my own self-assessments recently, Your Whole Life Assessment, and scored abysmally when it came to the category of “Experiences.” I prefer the predictability of routine. I like to keep the ship sailing forward and tend to look at fun adventures as an unnecessary distraction from progress. I realize how short-sighted this perspective is. Who cares if I win the Game (however I define the Game) if I miss out on life in the process?
As a way of correcting this imbalance in my life, I began a few years back to list the experiences that came my way. For a year, I had incredible opportunities to record. Being aware of my tendency to bypass experience for progress helped me recalibrate and enjoy the unique occasions that came my way. This was an improvement. Still, something was missing.
I realized that I was drawing an artificial line between the routine days that fill each month and the extraordinary days marked by unique experiences. This caused me to miss the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary.
Each ordinary day is full of experiences to savor. Joan Puls wrote in Every Bush is Burning, “Our mundane experiences contain all the stuff of holiness and of human growth in grace. Our world is rife with messages and signatures of the Spirit.” One day might gift us lunch with a friend. The next might delight us with a walk in the fresh air. We immerse ourselves in a novel or biography. We relax with a glass of wine. The extraordinary in the ordinary.
I know that life has so many hardships we must endure. I remember in my hardest days, encouraging myself to “find joy” somewhere amid of each day. Joy was not evident in the darkness, so I knew that I would only see joy through the darkness if I intentionally went looking for it. Some days were more successful than others. Many days I needed to create experiences that brought joy. I was always better off for the effort.
Currently, I am pushing forward in so many different directions. It is so easy in my ambition to make a difference to miss the wonder of the moment. Yes, I want to make a difference, to have an impact for good; but I do not want to miss living in the process. I am resisting the temptation to silo life between work and experience. I desire the expectant eyes of a child. Who knows how I might be surprised if I look to see the glories all around me? This is the fruit of being present, undistracted, awake.
I hope to learn how to accumulate experiences better and find joy in the ordinary course of each day. I hope to lift up my head from the relentless lure of technology and open my eyes to the moments each day grants me. Accumulating experiences does not need to be a trip to Orlando or an exciting adventure that makes our heart race. Today is the day to find joy. Today there are experiences to cherish.
Where will you experience life today?