Editor’s note: Each Thursday, we feature a throwback piece from Topology’s predecessor, catapult magazine. In this essay from 2012, Hannah Thyberg recalls a day of rest and play that is extraordinarily ordinary.
Come Friday, I feel worn and weary from the week behind me. Frenzied work and scattered to-dos have occupied all of my physical and mental energy these last days, leaving me barren and dry. Life feels heavy, tedious. I ache to curl up and slip away from it all. But Saturday comes, and it brings me hope. It reminds me of the wholesome goodness that surrounds me. The walls I have so furiously constructed around myself are gently pried open, revealing a world of warm invitation.
I had the house I share with seven housemates to myself for the majority of the day. Some might find that kind of solitude daunting, but I find peace in the stillness. I patter around the floor in my bare feet, toes sinking into plush carpet then sticking to cold linoleum tile. I open the fridge to find a bag full of fresh, farm-grown carrots, gangly and gnarled and beautiful. I am inspired. Out come bowls and mixers and measuring cups. I grab the flour and the spices and I begin to create.
As I grate and pour and stir, I slip into a different place—not an alternate reality, but rather the fullness of this one. I am forced to slow down, look around and take in the fullness of the moment in which I find myself. In this way, cooking is deeply humanizing for me. There is something sacred about taking time to prepare a meal. Cooking requires thoughtful patience. It requires presence.
My senses delight in the squelching of carrot against metal as small orange flecks scatter the countertop and my forearms. I breathe deeply the smell of cinnamon and clove and I am content. This moment is good. Baking is revelation.
I dawdle at the dishes while my cake lies waiting in the oven like a butterfly in its cocoon. My hands placidly work as my mind wanders out the window to the garden. I breathe sun-warmed air. I feel the rise and fall of my lungs. I am reminded of life, its subtle intricacies. How often I forget how good it feels to breathe.
After a slow and quiet afternoon, I am graced with a trip to the lake, and a day that has already been filled with so much continues to grow fuller.
Facing out over the water while we enjoy dinner al fresco, tangy lemon sauce rouses my taste buds as I savor spiraled pasta and vibrant green asparagus. I watch the warm glow of sun dance across the surface of the water. O Lord, how manifold are your works!
We take dessert out on the boat. The motor whirs listlessly, churning the cool evening water as we float along the shore. Forks scrape against plates as we indulge in the rewards of the day’s work. Every bite is a gift. I feel childlike giddiness and eat my piece down to the last crumb.
Eventually we come to a deep point in the lake. We drop anchor, shed clothes and greet water with reckless abandon. I hesitate, scared of the cold. But as my body plunges into the depths, I am overcome by the joy of head to toe shivers. Delight is life-giving, and far too often scarce.
At the end of the evening I sit on the dock watching the ducks cast shadows against a pinkish hued sky. I reflect back on my day and in my musings I am struck by its simplicity—no fantastical feats or grandiose adventures, just the understated normalcy of everyday living.
I am beginning to learn that there is profound joy and wonder in the small and the menial. No task, no thing lacks significance. All is grace and all is beauty.
Perhaps the greatest human tragedy is our anesthetization to the human experience. We have become so jaded by schedules and deadlines that we are blind to anything else. Our perspective has been warped like weather-beaten glass. Everything is dim and blotchy. In our hurry, moments collect like dust on a shelf, neglected and forgotten.
What we must realize is that life optimization can’t be accomplished by shortcuts. We gain nothing from efficiency, but lose everything. To live fully means to live slowly. We must give ourselves the time and space to experience the extravagance of the details.
This is the challenge I pose to myself, and to you—a dare to live differently, to live fully. Take nothing for granted. Savor the richness of every second. Life abounds with mystery and grandeur—if only we would take the time to see it.