I had to go to the store one evening last week. After coming home from work I discovered that we had a desperate need for milk and cat litter, so I ran out quickly to the shop. Walking around the aisles in the store I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the door of one of the freezers. What has happened to me? I thought. I am out in public wearing a pair of sweatpants I have had on in bed for the last 2 nights! I never used to go out in my pajamas—I used to have rules! In my shopping basket the current state of my life seemed to be reflected in my purchases—3 bags of cat litter, milk, and a bottle of aspirin. They sat there in my cart silently mocking me. I felt a rush of self pity for my humdrum existence.
Life. At times of stress, a simple thing like going to the grocery store for the umpteenth time can seem like a monumental task, yet one more thing to add to the to the ever-growing to-do list. Sometimes it is these little things that threaten to overwhelm and wear down the spirit. It is when I am tired that I am most likely to forget that it is actually a blessing just to be able to go to the store, to have a house to clean, and to have people for whom I will risk being seen outside in my pajamas so that they can have milk for their breakfast.
Just when I was feeling sorry for myself for having to trudge round the store, I remembered Gerda Weissmann Klein, who survived the horrors of a concentration camp during the war. For the rest of her life Gerda spoke of the preciousness of the ordinary, going as far as to say: “To cope with failure as well as to benefit from success, one must appreciate the magic of a boring evening at home”.
A boring evening at home is something that I am certainly guilty of not appreciating fully. But when I think about it I realize the truth that Gerda spoke. The ordinary moments of life are often those that are most precious. And it is through the ordinary day-to-day routine that families are built. Boring evenings at home, tedious trips to the store, or magical opportunities to experience peace, build relationships, show each other we care, and forge the kind of connections that take time? It’s all in the attitude.
Here is Gerda Weissmann Klein in action: