Hot Tea and Cold Cereal


The first task of my day is to put on the kettle. I love the rumbling sound of water in the pot on the verge of boiling. I live for the sound of the whistle saying it's almost teatime. I breathe easier when the steam rises from the cup as I pour the water through a coffee filter (we have HARD water, so I filter out the deposits after boiling- it makes a difference!) I like my tea strong, sweet, and creamy. It's the best part of waking up. (Sorry Folgers.) Tea is my routine, and helps me start the day well.

I'm not great at eating breakfast. If it was up to my wishes, I'd skip it entirely. I do sometimes by accident, but I always pay for it with the jitters that take a long time to go away even after feeding myself. This is how my brain works: the ordinary is so ordinary it seems unimportant- a waste of time- until I am feeling poorly! So I have to be smart and take steps to ensure I don't skip the things that are good for me because I've gone and decided they aren't worth stopping for. Cold cereal may not be the most nourishing choice, but it is a better option than fasting.

This post isn't really about food. It's about how to view life. Maybe it's a life hack I've realized and want to share: The ordinary can feel like a waste, but it is an absolute necessity for a healthy existence. Don't skip it in search of something "better" or "more important."

I might have guessed, since I've been able to observe for many years now the power of routine in the lives of my little ones. Yes, it interrupts their creativity, plans, games, exciting events of life, and even dreams, but without it they would quickly become sick, hungry, tired, and grouchy. They need the holy boring ordinary to ultimately thrive. Why would I think it would be different for me? (Yes, I still need the creativity, daydreams, excitement, too! But not exclusively, which is what I tend to think I want/need.)

Yesterday I had a moment of awakening, because I realized my writing is cold cereal right now. I want every piece I write to dazzle and inspire or why bother?- might as well skip it. But I've gotten mixed up about the purpose: Writing is also about the sacredness of the ordinary. If I write to impress instead of writing to be present, it's no wonder I'm burning out. Stellar writing all the time would defeat the purpose of writing which is to walk out the experience of the present moment and share it with others.

I'm pursuing meaning which means prioritizing and searching motives. What motivates me to lay words on a page? Writing is about communication and connection if it is about anything at all. It's part of a healthy, holistic routine far more than it's about performing to make a good impression. It doesn't have to dazzle everyday; I am allowed to keep it in the realm of simple but effective. Like cold cereal.

I don't know about you, but I've just made myself hungry. Time to put the kettle on and be my boring, ordinary human self for a quick minute. Trader Joe's has some simple vanilla granola calling my name. Happy Friday!



Jamie Bagley