Saturday, 14 July 2007

Getting back to the mundane

I can't help feeling that we live in a culture that hates routine and the mundane. It's a culture where the worst thing is to 'waste' your life doing ordinary things, living an ordinary kind of life. We feel that we have to transcend the everyday with newer, bigger, more exciting experiences. In a sense, it's a kind of religion where we lift ourselves out of our little worlds by doing new things, breaking routine and opening our horizons. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, in one sense, and yet its intensity and centrality in our lives has got to be problematic. Obviously, it engenders a high level of self-preoccupation, and it also has danger of being transferred into my spiritual life, but one other thing has struck me about this; it simply fails to realize the value of the mundane.

The mundane, humdrum and everyday is not worthless but is rather filled with value.

FIrstly, it is filled by God's presence. Every detail and boring bit of my life is given by God and filled by God.

Secondly, holiness can only be realized in and through the mundane. It is only in the context of ordinary everyday relating that I can learn to love, forgive and help. Dramatic moments have a particular role, but there is much about me that can only be changed by regular, everyday obedience. Discipline, for example, can only be learnt in mundane, everyday life.

Thirdly, the mundane is about living in the present. If I am over-preoccupied with some future goal or experience the danger is that I simply fail to live now, today. I don't do what needs to be done now.

Fourthly, escaping into new, bigger, more challenging experiences is often something that only wealthy people can do as it requires money, opportunities and freedom to do it. It is, in a sense, the religion of the liberal elites, and so it easily leads (ironically) to a very blinkered view of the world where the suffering, poverty and problems of many are 'glided over'. Surely, I would find more self-realization by engaging myself in the everyday suffering/problems of people around me?