Last month I taught a journal-writing class to a group of women at my church. Though I practically cut my teeth writing in my journal, I no longer write regularly. I justify myself by claiming that I spend my days writing other things, which absolves me from any sort of journal-writing guilt. Honestly though, at the end of the day I feel like I simply have nothing left to say.
The details of my life are mundane:
I eat, I sleep, I work. Repeat.
Of course, there are variations, but not many.
I eat, but I eat the same things on a weekly basis. (We follow a set menu at the Gingerbread House because of picky eaters.)
I sleep, but not much because my body keeps a monk’s schedule, awakening usually at 3 or 4 am.
I work: I write, I shovel, I cook, I clean, I drive, I organize.
These days, there’s little that’s noteworthy but for the snow, and even that’s lost its newsworthiness, as it simply keeps coming.
But then two weeks ago, I found myself in a situation that I had to write about:
I am sitting in an examination room at the Seacoast Cancer Center. I am not here because I have cancer. No one in the waiting room knows that though, and I feel like a fraud. There are people with real problems out there — one woman wears an eye patch, one came in a wheelchair. One man carries a cane, while another carries what I think must be a chemotherapy bag.
And here I am, because of anomalies in my blood work at my yearly physical.
The room I’m in is depressing, even though they try to make it otherwise. The walls are painted sage green. Three walls in a lighter green and one in a darker green. Everything else is khaki neutral: floor tiles, chairs, examination bed, sink, countertop. I, on the other hand, wear an incredibly bright pink sweater. I stand out.
There’s nothing here that’s particularly interesting. No major plot points, no great descriptions. So why did I feel compelled to grab a notebook out of my bag and write?
I suspect it was because this was something out of the ordinary. That is, it was out of the ordinary to me. It was a different beat in the regular rhythm of my days. So I wrote it down.
However, what I see as ordinary might not be what everyone else sees as ordinary. Is that not one of the reasons why we read? Is that not one of the reasons why we seek out diverse books? Sometimes we want to read about someone whose life mirrors ours. We need understanding. We crave validation. Other times, we want to slip into the shoes of someone entirely different and experience what constitutes their “ordinary.” We need a universality of emotion, even if the details are different. That is our humanity.
I value those stories, whatever they are and wherever they may take place. They are a connecting link in time and place and situation from one person’s heart and soul to another person’s heart and soul.
I don’t believe in ordinary. I believe in connections.