Let's face it - life can be mundane. It's so easy to get bogged down in the details of life and the myriad tasks we have to complete rather than appreciating the beauty in those details.
Last week one of our city managers passed away unexpectedly, and it has me thinking a lot about the banal tasks required of life. This man was young (only 48). I kept imagining that over the weekend he was living his normal life worrying about whatever we worry about. It all feels so important and then two days later he is gone. Since my dad passed away nearly four months ago I've struggled a lot with the humdrum of daily life, and this death has torn open that wound.
I've always had trouble adjusting when excitement is over. Whether it's been the excitement at the beginning of a new relationship, looking forward to vacation or running the next big race, the let down once the excitement dies down has always been a challenge for me. That's one of the reasons we've traveled so much: I need to get away. I need something to break up the monotony of every day life.
We've worked really hard to keep up the fun pace after our son was born. We've still traveled, we still go out, we are still busy. But after nearly a month of my husband working long days every weekend I'm starting to lose my mind a little bit. I need to get away. My husband reminds me that we were in the Outer Banks just a month ago, and it feels like forever since we were out of town. I need something on the calendar. I need something to look forward to.
I need races on the calendar too. I've registered for two half marathons this year: the Gazelle Girl Half in Grand Rapids in April and the Detroit Half in October. That's it. I feel like the year is stretched out in front of me with no discernible running goals. I need races. Lots and lots of races. I may run the Playmakers race series this summer which I had lots of fun doing a few years ago, but in the grey days of the Michigan winter the summer race series feels so far away.
Perhaps it's normal to need something to look forward to. Last night we were at dinner with friends who were talking about upcoming trips, and I felt so envious it made my stomach ache. When I reflect on the everyday nature of life, I realize that's what makes life normal. As much as I'd like to say screw it - I'm not doing the laundry or cooking dinner or washing the car because I'm going to die someday - that's not realistic. Of course I'm going to do those things. The ordinary is what makes the extraordinary stand out.
Yesterday I went for a beautiful run on a balmy (for Michigan - 32 degrees) winter morning. The sun was peeking up over the Capitol building, and it was stunning. All felt right in the world. The ordinary was extraordinary.
Today I went to the funeral for the city manager we lost so soon. It was a beautiful tribute to his life. At a time that is so unbearably sad there is beauty in grief. Local government officials from across the state came to honor him. I hugged people I've worked with for the last eight years and marveled at this supportive community. I felt the love and respect for this man who has spent 20 years revitalizing his city. My heart was full - of both sadness and admiration.
His brother gave a beautiful eulogy following the homily. His words have been echoing in my mind all evening. He said to truly honor his brother we should do what we love and do it with passion and conviction. I looked around the room at these men and women who are dedicated to their communities and realized that is why I love my job. I love and admire these people who are dedicated public servants. They love where they live. They are incredible people, and I am privileged to work with them.
When I got home I pushed myself through a brutal run, feeling my muscles burning with each step. It hurt, but in the words of Lady Antebellum "I'd rather hurt than feel nothing at all." Tonight, as I sit here reflecting on this day with a glass of wine with sore leg muscles and a heavy heart, I'm thinking about doing what I love with conviction. Running, representing cities, loving my friends and family. I'll appreciate the mundane in life because it's those moments that make up the memories of a lifetime. And until further notice I'll celebrate everything.