The story of your perfectly ordinary face
I was walking the streets of downtown Americus looking for a story to be told. I had been promised one and sought it out. I was not expecting much out of the day, just a simple story from simple people who were doing simple work. I parked my car and climbed out with my recorder for documentation purposes. It was a perfectly ordinary day. And then it turned anything but ordinary. For whatever reason, my eyes were open. These ordinary people in my ordinary village were beautiful. Their faces were gorgeous. They shined with a newness I had forgotten about. There is nothing ordinary about these faces. These were faces I loved. And I’d forgotten this fact.
Sometimes the ordinary feels like something we deserve. We become dull because of our expectations. We lose our ability to be grateful because our everyday, our ordinary, becomes our right instead of our gift. And these faces, they were gift. I could feel life returning to my dry bones. The story changed. The story was no longer what I was invited to tell about. The story became intensely personal and it was my story. I slowed down and I took it in. I noticed how those faces were marked with their own stories. I noticed how those faces wore the lines of laughter. I saw the pinches of anxiety. I adore those faces for the comfort, joy and realness they bring. Perhaps this price of COVID had indeed been a disguise of sorts because it had made my ordinary faces a gift. It had given me sight to see there is no such thing as an ordinary day. For this day at least, I realized what an awesome little life I get to lead. These faces, they bring with them familiarity. They bring with them a sense of home. A place to rest. How had I overlooked this? How had I ever become used to not seeing them? How had I ever let a day pass without celebrating them? My ordinary had lost its magic. Yet had it? Because on this ordinary day, I was overwhelmed by how precious it is to call these faces part of my every day. For a moment I was free of expectations and for a moment my gratitude took over. I was reset to my design, the one which says every little thing is a benevolence worthy of celebration.
Going to Wal-Mart, seeing faces I may never be able to put a name to, there is a treasure there. I have no right to share a time and space with these people. To go to work with folks I see more days than not—I have no right to overlook this. I was never promised this job nor these people. My expectations had blinded me. To have a compliment thrown my way, to share a laugh with a stranger, to have a door opened for me, to hear a sweet thank you, to receive such a small kindness as a smile, to hear “it’s so good to see you!” Those things are never mine to expect, they are gift to be adored.
What had happened to me? When had I grown so dull I lost my gratitude for such? I don’t know exactly, but it most likely happened on the day I grew entitled. Entitlement will strip me from ever seeing the gift. It will most certainly rob me of the celebration of my every day. And my design—it was never to live entitled to these things. It was meant to see the goodness in my every day. I had become entitled to my ordinary. And I had lost my ability to see the color in my day. My life had settled into a bleak shade of grey. Everything had just grown “meh.”
Perhaps I should have noticed sooner. Maybe I should have gotten a clue when nothing was alive anymore, it was only time passing. Expectations and entitlement, my selfish twins had taken my joy. But not on this day. My simple ordinary day in search of a story to tell came to fruition and the story was me. I saw these faces which had popped up in my life so many times before. They became the story telling me, yet again, what a very precious opportunity lives here. My celebration of the ordinary began. Oh, how I love these faces. May I never forget it. May I never again miss a chance to whisper “thank you” for them.
What is your ordinary? Has it faded into grey? Have you come to feel entitled to your ordinary? Have you come to expect your ordinary? I hope it does not take you as long to realize your days are anything but ordinary. I hope the color of the cherished returns quickly. I hope you’re embraced in vibrancy. For a moment, look at your life knowing you are entitled to none of it. It is all gift. Every tiny detail, as numb as you might have grown to it, is telling a story. Put aside what you think you know and listen to hear it in a new way. Ask for a new experience. Silence the white noise of all you think is rightfully yours. The color will return in shades of something sacred. You will no longer be looking for a story. You will realize yours is the story worth telling and it will be written on your face. And oh, how we ever love your face, your perfectly precious and ordinary face.