The Marvelous Mundane  

Posted by Brock Booher

Funerals are not the place to talk about doing the dishes, folding laundry, or the daily grind of a boring job. We most likely will hear of great deeds or the shining moments of the life being mourned and celebrated. Maybe we should change that. Maybe we should hear about how many times the person cooked dinner for her family, or how many days he endured at work in order to pay the bills. What if we took a moment at someone’s passing to celebrate the marvelous mundane that makes life possible?

Think about the day you had yesterday. Chances are you didn’t hit the winning home run to win the World Series. You didn’t win the big case before the Supreme Court. You didn’t solve the crime of the century. You didn’t save the world from impending destruction. Most likely you spent the day with routine things like wiping counters, sorting data on a spreadsheet, or changing light bulbs. Tomorrow will probably be the same – a day filled with menial tasks that don’t seem to make a difference.

Is that all life is – a string of almost meaningless activities placed end to end together until we die?

At the recent funerals I attended, one man’s mundane accomplishments included a thankless job that he trudged off to everyday, yet it allowed him to come home everyday and play catch with his son. His sons valued that memory more than his military service in the Korean War. One woman’s father tasked her as a young girl to learn how to bake bread, but when she passed even the local nail manicurist remembered her for all the delicious breads and cookies that she baked. A young girl spent most of her time at play, but was remembered for her warm smile on the volleyball court. None of the activities seemed heroic, yet each one was remembered more for the mundane than for the unusual, or extraordinary.

Perhaps the key to a life well lived is not avoiding or shirking the mundane, but in finding meaning in those small thankless tasks that make our lives move forward. When we die we hope that people will speak of our heroic deeds and accomplishments, but maybe heroism is found in squaring your shoulders and quietly carrying the burden of everyday life so that others will benefit.