My favorite question is, “Why?” I guess I have that in common with every 3 year old. But it’s one of the most illuminating questions I know. And once again, it has shed light on something important in my life.
It was 7:30 at night and I had worked my way down a whole list of to-dos that day. I was in my car, running three more errands before I called it quits for the night. But rather than feeling pleasantly accomplished I was feeling rather unimpressed with myself.
That voice in my head (which has a very snarky tone, I might add) was going off on me, something like this:
“Yeah, so you did a few things today. Big deal. What did you do, really? You did a load of laundry. You cleaned the kitchen. You vacuumed the floors. You tried to fix the upstairs toilet (and determined that it was going to take more expertise than your attempt at following the YouTube video). You wrote a thank you note and signed some birthday cards. You paid the monthly bills. You went to the chiropractor. You watered the plants. You scheduled the water heater inspection. You made a boring dinner. You filled out your mail-in ballot.”
“That’s all just stuff. Nothing important. Nothing meaningful. What a waste of a day.”
All this pelted my brain as I stopped in front of a house where I was picking something up for my husband. I sat there for a moment in the dark with my eyes squeezed shut, trying to block out the relentless shaming of that awful voice.
But the truth was, that was exactly how I felt. My heart felt heavy in my chest as I reviewed my day and saw that all those things I had ticked off my to-do list, seemed really very small and unimportant.
And since one of my greatest fears is… (readers, I’m giving you a small glimpse into my soul)…not living up to my potential… the idea that my day was menial was physically painful.
Somehow I pushed myself out of the car and into the very dark night. I got the item for my husband and headed back to the car.
Here’s one of the marvelous things about being in a very dark neighborhood in a rural area… you can see the stars.
I got in my car and looked up at those bright, abundant points of light shining in the near-blackness, and something in my heavy heart lightened, just a bit.
And in that moment of relief, another voice could break into my mind, with a much gentler tone:
“Remember your ‘why’,” it said.
I drove away (so I wasn’t sitting in front of the house looking like a stalker), but I kept looking up at those stars intermittently (I was driving after all) and I thought about my “why.”
Why was I doing all those things on my to-do list?
Why did I do the laundry and clean the kitchen and try to fix the toilet?
Because I loved my family and I wanted them to have a clean and safe home.
Why did I write a thank you note and birthday cards?
Because I love my friends.
Why did I go to the chiropractor and make dinner?
Because I love myself.
Why did I fill in my mail-in ballot?
Because I love my country.
Without fail, the “why” behind all the little, seemingly-mundane tasks that I did that day, was love. I did each and every one of those things, because there was something or someone that I loved. Including myself.
That was not a waste of a day. That was what days are for.
When I got home that night and had checked off the final 3 items on my to-do list, I sat down at my computer. I wanted to remember what I had remembered about why I do what I do.
So I made a little graphic. And I share it with you.
Remember your why.
I’m going to hang this by my bathroom mirror to remind me every morning. (And my bathroom has a beach theme.)
But for me, remembering my “why” reminds me that all the simple stuff… is simply because I love.