Mundane Girl in a Crazy World

Two of my daughters are currently in high school. They're cool. So cool. I mean, really. They are. Way cooler than I ever dreamed of being back in the day, growing up in a small town in interior Alaska in the '70s and '80s, where trends and fashions reached us months or years late. My cool daughters, like all good GenZs, seem to connect primarily through the screen. What they snap, what they insta, what they screenshot, what they stream - this is not just what they do, it is who they are. GenXers like me tend to think that, while expanding their world in some senses, they are also shrinking it, and engaging with it in a much smaller way. But the world is not static; it is ever-changing, and even our very definitions of social life and connection must change too, and we must understand that what is normal and right for us, may not be for others.

Blythe, my way cool 17-year-old, streamed Mortal Instruments: City of Bone just the other night, proclaiming, "I haven't seen this in a hot minute." When it came out, she was nine. Cheesy as it is, I really like that movie, and my girls do too. Blythe and I have both read all the books. And I mention it because of the term "Mundane" which is used throughout the books and movie to reference people who have no connection to the magical world. In those stories, Mundane is almost an insult. They are people who are ignorant; blind to the amazing things around them. Even by our definition, mundane isn't a terribly sexy word - adj., lacking interest or excitement; dull. And yet, I think it's a word that describes me perfectly, and not in a bad way.

We all grow up thinking we will be something special. Our parents, at least most of them, tell us that. You can be anything, become an astronaut, cure cancer, write the great American novel; the only thing holding you back is you. But really, we can't all do that. Some of us have to be stay-at-home parents, custodians, waitresses, shelf stockers, factory workers. The world wouldn't work if we were all as 'special' as we are led to believe.

Being an elementary school librarian in a small town, raising kids, raising chickens, well, that's a pretty mundane life. We don't have a ton of money, seldom go on vacation or even camping trips, live a rather small life. I recall that line from You've Got Mail when Kathleen sends a message to her mysterious AOL pen pal: "Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?" I've definitely wondered this about myself. And I would say that I definitely haven't been very brave. I often take the path of least resistance. But, I've come to realize, I also very much like my small life. 

We took a vacation in Hawaii this past March, our entire family. My husband and I, and all five of our kids ages twenty-two down to eleven slogged through endless Covid protocols, got on a plane and flew to the Big Island, where my Dad lives. It should have been wonderful, and in some senses, it certainly was. But mostly, it felt like a lot of work. The kids fought a lot, no one could agree on where to go or what to do, people slept in too long, my liberal kids had a hard time holding their tongue around their vocally conservative Grandpa, and when you are staying in a condo, there is still housework, laundry and cooking. Some vacation, right? 

Every time I'm away from home I'm reminded that I don't really enjoy being away from home all that much. I like my home. I like my life. I like my job. I'm boring. Definitely not cool like my kids. Genuinely mundane. And while that definition of myself may have bothered me at one point, it doesn't any longer. I'm fine with being who I am, doing what I do, and loving what I love. I don't need to prove anything to anyone. It's okay if my idea of a big adventure is a three-day camping trip in a well-stocked motor home. It's okay if my idea of fun is my daily solo walks and jogs with my dog, listening to an audiobook. It's okay if I generally prefer staying home and doing a jigsaw puzzle or reading a book rather than going to a concert or a movie.

Soggy spring walk - my kind of 'adventure'

Others may need more. More variety, bigger adventures, and grander fun. For me, life itself is an awfully big adventure and fun is where you find it. May you all find your very own brand of fun and adventure. And if turns out you are a Mundane, like me, hey, that's okay! We can compare (very boring) notes.


  1. Oh, my gosh, I connect with this so much. I feel the same way. I like my home. I like my garden. I like books and playing my piano. It's a quiet life, but it fits.

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