The Importance of the Mundane
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.
“How can I ever live a mundane life?”
Two years ago, I sat at Melissa’s kitchen table and sipped the hot chai tea her husband had made for me while our kids played Neopets computer games upstairs. She’d been called to walk a spiritual path yet didn’t know how to take the first step.
“A Higher Power wants me to focus on healing and social work,” she told me. “If I’m concentrating on creating a healing center and exploring my spirituality, how will I ever live a normal life? How will I ever be able to do mundane things like balance a checkbook or sweep the floor? I should be doing only the important spiritual things!”
I understood what she meant. Spiritual growth, healing, service to humanity—all became so important to her that it was all she spoke of. She was considering studying for the clergy.
I posed the question to several spiritual leaders, Wiccan Priestesses, and interdenominational ministers, and got the same answer: if you lead a truly spiritual life and walk the sacred path, then everything you do in your mundane life will have spiritual overtones. Nothing will ever be truly mundane because the individual will have integrated the spiritual and the mundane into one life.
And while I agree with that, it’s only now that I’m understanding the importance of the mundane in keeping a spiritual person grounded in this physical world.
It’s a balance of the chakras, the body’s seven energy centers. The upper chakras focus on spirituality, vision, ideas, and communication. The lower ones represent our survival, sexuality, instincts, physicality. The middle one is the heart—our love, our compassion, our emotions.
Writers so often live in their heads, in a way that nonwriters don’t understand. Ask other writers about the multiple universes of characters and plotlines that live in the backs of their minds and those writers will nod and get that gleam in the eye. The same with musicians. I know plenty of composers and musicians who have songs playing in their minds all the time. It never really stops. It’s the way they take things in and it’s the medium to communicate how they see the world just as I do with writing. Everything becomes a potential idea for a book. Just as photographers see everything as though through a camera lens.
Wouldn’t that make a great shot? they think. Wouldn’t that make a great story? Wouldn’t that twist of magic be a perfect sequence of musical notes?
The same with spiritual people. They can become so in tune with God that they forget all about the basics of survival and honoring their emotions. They can become selfless to the point of burning out because they live in that mindset of service to Deity and to others. They must do it all and do it all themselves.
The same with highly intelligent people, especially at the genius level. I’ve worked with enough rocket scientists to discover some disturbing levels of brain activity. The image of the
1970’s nerd isn’t that far-fetched. The super-smart guy with broken glasses and greasy hair? Yeah, I’ve known several. It wasn’t that they didn’t understand good hygiene. It just wasn’t that important.
Let’s see…solve the design of a solar-wind-powered spacecraft or wash hair tonight….
After talking to several clergymen about a particular spiritual experience this weekend, they had some great advice for me: Go grocery shopping! Go dig in your garden! Go have sex! All the “mundane” lower chakra activities to ground myself so I wouldn’t be living too much in my ideas and vision.
So that’s the secret. Grounding. The balance of magickal and mundane. When I’ve done my best writing, I’ve been out for a walk in the woods or on the beach or in the grass. I’ve had a tape recorder in my hand, dictating my story as if it’s being channeled from the Gods, but with my feet firmly on the ground.
I’ve seen spiritual people relish housework, particularly cleaning, because it kept them closer to the little tasks that are necessary to make life happen every day and keep its course smoothly running. Each mundane act became sacred because it was part of the equation.
I’ve seen brilliant physicists ground themselves with regular exercise, tattoos, and body piercings in more places than I wanted to imagine (their spouses told me, okay?). They kept a strong physical presence to offset their ten-ideas-per-second lifestyle.
But it’s too hot for gardening. And as for romance, I’m just going to let it come find me. Guess I’ll go grocery shopping and see if I can ground myself with a handful of Mint Milano cookies.