Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Gift of the Mundane Task

For me this year is going to be a transition between what was before and what is after. Lots of things are changing and I have to be a grown up about it and embrace the process rather than fight it. This time next year I will have my degree and hopefully a job that I love and will be making choices that reflect that. But before that there's a whole lot of living to get through. 

We don't know whats ahead, but we can look to the past and learn. I have the Timehop app on my phone and its fun to see what we were doing a year ago, two years ago, three, four and five years ago. However as we get into February, I look at the very ordinary things that we were doing four years ago, just living each day not realising that our lives were going to change for ever towards the end of February. I want to tell my past self to hold onto those moments and enjoy them because it is all about to change. 

Four years on and its exciting to see beautiful buildings being built in the central city and the possibilities of things being so much better. Christchurch is going to be an amazing city to live in one day, however the process of getting there has been hard hard slog. From the early days when we queued at the well for months for clean drinking water, when we all dug toilets (known as a "long-drop") in the back garden and lived with/without electricity; to now when we all bitch and moan about the never ending sewer repairs and road works and commiserate with each other about the Earthquake Commission and the slow process of repairs. 

It is hard to embrace change, it takes letting go of what was and how we were before and facing a future that looks different. I wonder if I would have gone to University if I hadn't lived through the Christchurch earthquakes. Facing your worst fears makes you realise that you are stronger than you think. It gives you the courage to face other stuff in your life that needs to be addressed.

One thing that I have noticed is that one of the things which actually sustains us as humans and keeps us moving forward, is the simple routine of the every day.  For the last four years while thousands of buildings have been demolished and sites cleared, we have been having breakfast, going to work, playing with the children, cooking dinner.... doing the really ordinary things which give shape to life. It is this pattern to life which actually gives meaning and value to our existence.

Hanging the laundry and sorting the odd socks, peeling the potatoes and polishing school shoes, these and hundreds of other such simple tasks give shape to our days and purpose to our moments. It gives a sense of moving forward in a time when you can feel bogged down. It is having nothing to do and no goals which makes life seem meaningless on a day to day basis. The business of living is a gift to those whose life is difficult or sad or in transition.

I realise that there is more to life than the everyday, and finding that meaning part of the human condition. But what I am saying here is that when you are finding life full of huge and maybe unexpected challenges, it is the every day routine that keeps you from absolutely losing the plot. No matter how bad things are, the children/pets/plants still need feeding and whoever you are the laundry needs doing. For myself as I battle this year of transition, I'm grateful for the simple tasks that keep me grounded and show me that time is actually passing.


  1. i hope you enjoy this transitional year like a comma in a sentence I am sure it will give sense to the whole when you look back. xxxx

  2. you always put it so eloquently....thanks for the reminder. i do thrive on those routines

  3. I am in transition this year as well. Actually, I've been in transition for about 5 years now--I think I might get out of it this year. Gretchen Rubin says that habits are the skeleton of our lives, necessary and helpful, mostly. (That's why changing them is so hard.) As for me I try (notice the word TRY) to remember every time I clean the kitchen that every act is one of creation and to be grateful I have a kitchen to clean!

  4. As always your posts are timed so well for me....routine and everyday living shall get me through this year! Big changes with Mikes mum moving in and building a new house to fit us all in! It shall be an interesting transition for all of us!! ;) xx

  5. I love the road-cone theme to your quilt! Very apt.

    When I look back at how much has changed in the last four years, I'm amazed. So much of my life is completely different - some in a good way, some in a bad. But you're right, the basic routines of life are still there, and they help keep the changes from becoming overwhelming. I'd never thought of it like that.

  6. This is so true! Over the last 3 years it's the mundane tasks that held me together. The monotonous day to day tasks that helped me get through, that reminded me that life needs to go on and be lived xox


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