So I’m on my third, fourth, or maybe fifth time watching the entire seven-season run of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
(I live alone…Amazon Prime and I are good friends.)
The fifteenth episode of season six is called “Tapestry.” And here’s a quick synopsis because it’s important to understand the essence of this episode for all that I have to say about my life right now.
Main character Captain Picard is rushed to the Enterprise’s operating table where he dies because his artificial heart has stopped. He’s given a second chance at life by an omnipotent character named Q.
In their conversation, Picard admits he regrets much of his younger life because he was arrogant and cocky. This intrigues the omnipotent Q, who allows Picard to “pull on this thread” of his life to see what happens.
So Picard ‘pulls’ on a very specific thread in his life: the events that led him to have an artificial heart. He returns to his early 20s, and we see him attempting to date multiple women on one day.
More importantly, we see the events that led up to him starting a bar fight which led to his knifing, which led to the artificial heart, which has caused his ‘death.’
Picard’s Boring Life
And while it’s funny to see an aging Picard playing out that incident with his youthful friends, the part of the ‘tapestry’ I’m most interested in is when Picard is placed back onto the Enterprise. This is the fleet’s flagship, and of which he is captain – but not in this ‘new’ reality.
Instead, someone else is captain and Picard is a Lieutenant Junior Grade Astrophysics Administrator – or some goofy title like that.
He goes to the starship’s bar, Ten Forward, and asks for an employee review.
It doesn’t go well.
I Am That Picard
Picard is so very, very wrong about that quiet life. It was not dull and tedious – it only seemed that way through his eyes.
It really bothers me (and bothers plenty of other people) that this normal life is portrayed as if it’s horrible.
What the heck is wrong with a “normal” life? I am that Picard. My day-to-day life is pretty darn dreary and repetitive.
- I wake up.
- I have some tea.
- I go to work.
- I come home.
- I feed the cats.
- I read a book.
- I watch yet another episode of Star Trek.
- I have dinner with a friend.
- I clean the litter boxes.
- I plant some flowers.
- I buy cute clothes at thrift stores.
- I meditate a little here and there.
And that’s it, folks, there’s very little excitement in my normal, everyday, ordinary life.
Or is there?
My blogging friend Beth Ann Chiles writes nearly every day at It’s Just Life: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary. As the title suggests, the blog covers many aspects of Beth Ann’s everyday life: family, friends, devotionals, teapots, travel, and more.
In chronicling her life, Beth Ann elevates the everyday into something that approaches art.
Or maybe it is art, I don’t know.
But I do know that she’s created a cozy spot on the internet where I always feel welcome, and where there’s probably a pot of tea nearby.
I also envy her many trips around the world – and the fact that she’s at the beach again this week.
But the thing that gets me about Beth Ann’s blog is that her “ordinary” life is not Picard’s dreaded “dull and dreary.” It’s magical.
There Are No Dull and Dreary Lives
More to the point, my life isn’t dull and dreary. There are these amazing high points:
- Living in London just after college.
- My first apartment in Toledo and the writing and modeling friends.
- Life in Athens with more writing and meditation friends.
- Living and working at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.
- That amazing trip to Peru a few years ago with magical waterfall experience.
All I have to do is start making a list, and I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences.
To be sure, there have been lows, too.
- Filing for both bankruptcy and divorce in the same year was horrible.
- Getting fired from a job wasn’t fun either, but retrospect shows me the journey from that point to now.
We all know life isn’t about the high or the low points. Life is a sum of all of those points and finding that middle road where all is well for us.
It would be easy to argue that Picard’s view of that “dull dreary” life is flawed. Through the magic of storytelling, he’s thrown into that life without the benefit of the experiences that led him to the ‘end’ of the journey. Surely there have been wonderful things happen in that Picard’s life.
Unlike that Picard, though, you and I have the ability to stop and look back and the various twists and turns that led us to here and now. Having done this recently, I am at a still point with being the “dull and dreary” Picard.
Not long ago, I wrote about how I thought that if I “that if I just put up a pretty website and got busy with business-like things, my life would change.”
Unpacking The Story
Unpacking that sentence and the story behind that “still point” for you a little more, I was obsessed and enamored with the idea of having a business.
The idea of one – not the reality. I had grandiose ideas about what running a business by myself meant and had convinced myself that being busy = business.
In my mind, I needed to be as busy as possible because surely that would make my business succeed, right?
But the more I observed this desire to have a business, the less it felt real. It didn’t have meaning and purpose and felt terribly hollow.
So I let go of that desire. It really was that easy.
In writing one morning, I asked what I really needed to do. And the answer had nothing at all to do with running a business.
Stop Forcing Success
If you want coaching, I can do that. If you want writing, I can do that. But I’m not going to run around and try to force success to happen anymore.
One other thing I’ve realized is that all of the amazing things in my life came relatively easily.
Yes, I had to work at them.
But those things came together in a way that I can only describe as magic or happenstance or fate. The less I fight with life, the more it flows. And I know that miracles of all sizes happen every day when you least expect them.
So now my life is back to a normal, ordinary, gentle hum.
Does your life hum? Do you see the magic?
Beth Ann Chiles says
Oh my goodness. You have no idea what that meant to me to read this! I loved the Pucard story— you nailed it. Ordinary can be extraordinary! You rock!!!
Julie Wallace says
I just admire the tenacity you have for putting something out there every day. And, in that way, it’s both a devotional and extraordinary. Hugs my friend!
Laura Lee Carter says
All wonderful observations that remind me of my own “midlife crisis” which ended up being the great awakening for me! I lost my marriage and then job which all turned into the great search for meaning. From there I slowly built the life I had always wanted but didn’t acknowledge. At 64 it’s working just fine!
Julie Wallace says
Thanks Laura Lee – that’s yet another confirmation for me that it’s A-OK to go slow and to just be right where I am right now.
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au says
Hi Julie – I loved your post – and yes, you’re not the only one who lives a fairly mundane life and isn’t soaring from height to height or passion to passion. I’m finding I quite enjoy a calm life and since leaving my drama filled job, I appreciate serenity and peace even more. Sometimes it seems that our life might be boring in comparison to others, but I’m okay with that (and I think you are too!)
Julie Wallace says
You are so right, Leanne: I am OK with a quiet life. Although an intriguing vacation or nice meal now and then with friends is a darned good thing, too! I like to think of it this way: moderation in all things, including moderation. 😉