Two mornings in a row, I have been awakened by Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough” playing on my alarm clock radio. As I lay for a few moments longer on my pillow today, listening to Mr. White’s resonant baritone and laughing at the coincidence, I couldn’t help wondering if there was any significance to it. Was I about to live Monday through again in a Bill Murray-esque manner? Oh, I hoped it wouldn’t be so. Then as I passed the next hour dressing for the day, applying my makeup and drying my hair, I wondered a bit at how anything signifies anything.
Let me qualify that. Of course there are things of obvious significance – events, actions and interactions that have meaning and influence, effecting change and so on. My pre-workday musings had more to do with the rest. The rest. All that fills our days and nights, in between the moments of clear significance. The way we phrase our conversations; the clothes you put on; the food you decide to consume; the music you tune your radio to in the car; the people you choose to smile at; the people you choose not to smile at; the tv show you sit down to watch; the laundry you make time for; the dishes you decide to leave for another day… Does any of it signify?
There are many in this world who would answer with a firm ‘no.’ What do these things matter? In the long run, who cares? Well, sorry to be such a contrarian but I take a different view. I say ‘yes.’ I say the little bits of life signify a great deal. The little bits are what our habits consist of, and our habits are what our characters consist of. Recognizing this, I believe we can choose to live deliberately. That is, live in a manner that directs all our actions, words and even thoughts to the service of developing virtue. Patience, courage, generosity, joy, mercy, understanding, love. Virtue doesn’t grow out of enormous tests and trials. Virtue grows out of day to day living and proves its worth when the larger events come to pass.
I too get caught up in thinking that living with purpose means setting out to achieve great things. I fill myself up with resolve that is sapped in a week’s time. I overlook all the small opportunities to live deliberately and when the opportunities for great things do come, I find I am nowhere near ready for them.
I don’t know if Barry White will wake me up again tomorrow. I do know that choosing to be amused and to get out of bed smiling as the song played set the tone for my day. In fact, this seemingly insignificant event and reaction might be credited with today being remarkably more pleasant than yesterday despite the content of the two days being so alike. Just another reminder to live deliberately and trust that the big and lasting good things are built upon numerous little and momentary good things. Barry White and I encourage you to live so as to infuse significance into all the moments between the significant.