That is the quote that introduces my Eternal Scheme Daily Word for today – Practice. It’s a great word, one that we’re prone to gloss over in search of a short-cut. It’s a word our Western culture wants to eradicate in its effort to streamline life. It’s a word that makes us uncomfortable but not uncomfortable enough that we’re willing to change our behavior.
Practice is common, unglamorous, and often unnoticed. Yet it is essential in developing any skill or habit or craft. I believe that because it is common, unglamorous, and often unnoticed is precisely why it is so important to our inner character and sense of self-worth. Having mastery over the common things is what sets us apart from the majority of humanity who are content with mediocrity.
Common does not imply mediocre. Common is something that’s prevalent and mediocre is something that’s uninspired. I think that’s what George Washington Carver was getting at: doing the common thing in an inspired way is uncommon. People will notice because they are so accustomed to common things being done with mediocrity. Why? Because it requires effort and thoughtfulness regardless of being common.
Day-to-day things are common and often done in common ways. But when we do a common thing – like when we practice a random act of kindness – it becomes uncommon and gets noticed. Even if it doesn’t get noticed publicly, you know you’ve done a kindness and feel better for having brightened someone else’s day in some small way.
There are also a lot of thankless day-to-day activities that someone has to do. Most of us feel this burden falls on us. Making dinner every night day-in and day-out is one of those activities. I decided that since this fact isn’t going to change, what can I do to make this uncommon for both Saint Sam and myself. I also wanted to introduce more meatless meals into our already gluten-free, dairy-free diet. That meant more planning on my part, new shopping habits for an activity I already abhor, and disruption to an already fine-tuned task. I wanted this to be an adventure, like trying out a new restaurant, rather than a health-conscious, budget-friendly, domestic chore.
Our meatless month practice is going exceedingly well with some unexpected surprises. I have to plan. I’m spending a little more time hunting and gathering (aka shopping) and I’m trying new recipes. I’ve taken a common activity and applied some uncommon ways. The world may not be noticing, but we are. And that’s what matters most.