Don’t sweat the small stuff – Part 4 – Fill your life with love

Extraordinary in Ordinary

Now that I am learning to live more in the present, as I discussed in last week’s blog, I thought the next logical guiding principle from Richard Carlson in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff should be how to fill your life (your NOW) with love.  One of the first things Richard shared was that you should look for the extraordinary in ordinary.

This phrase immediately brought me back to my senior year in high school when I was in the pit band and we performed the musical, Pippin. The musical uses the premise of a mysterious performance troupe to tell the story of Pippin, a young prince on his search for meaning and significance.  We had practiced every day for months. The music and story were part of my soul.  I did not realize how much though, until I went to see the Broadway Revival in 2013.  I went by myself and as soon as the first cord was played the tears started streaming down my face and they didn’t stop until I had long left the theatre.

I had chalked this up to a resurgence of memories from high school; friends, accomplishments, loses, etc.  However, there was something tugging at me that made me believe there was more.  Fast forward 4 years.  I am finishing up the book, Shoe Dog which is an autobiography by Phil Knight, founder of Nike and he has a quote where he talks about the simple things in life having brought him the most joy. The tears start flowing again, as I pull up the soundtrack to Pippin. Four months later I am reading Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Richard’s recommendation to manage the small stuff is to find the ‘extraordinary in the ordinary.”  On go the tears again.  You can’t tell me that this is all simply bringing me back to old friendships in high school.  The trigger was the word “extraordinary” which would bring me back to Pippin.

When I sat down to write this blog, and the focus was about filling your life with love, I had to listen to the soundtrack, read the lyrics and figure out once and for all what the connection was that was tugging at my heart strings.  I realized that I had this internal battle back in high school between being free to do what I wanted and living a simple life (note, the risk-free life).  I wanted to be extraordinary, thus why I related to Pippin.  During the musical, we join Pippin on his journey and desire to be extraordinary. We feel for him when he finds himself in an ordinary life, but rejoice with him when he finds love, happiness and fulfillment in the simple things. He found extraordinary in the ordinary.

Need to be Free

When I listen to the words from the songs in the musical, it pumps me up and encourages me to live free, like a bird, now! For instance, here are some of the songs and snippets of lyrics that touched me.

Corner in the Sky, “Rivers belong where they can ramble. Eagles belong where they can fly. I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free. Got to find my corner of the sky.”
Extraordinory “Well, here I am to seize my day. If someone would just tell me when the hell it is. Oh, give me my chance, and give me my wings.”
No time at all, “Oh, it’s time to start livin’. Time to take a little from this world we’re given. Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall. In just no time at all….Oh, it’s time to keep livin’. Time to keep takin’ from this world we’re given”
Simple joys, “And wouldn’t you rather be a left-handed flea. A crab on a slab at the bottom of the sea, than a man who never learns how to be free.


My take away from these songs is that you had to be free, you had to enjoy life,  and live it to the fullest.  As a senior in high school, that was the cornerstone of who I was and how I would live my life.  However, there was a duality to it all for me.  Could you be extraordinary, be free to do what you wanted to do, while doing what was expected and fulfilling your responsibilities? Would I get bogged down and trapped when I knew there was more in me?  I believe every time I hear the soundtrack it brings me back to these questions.

Finding happiness in the simple things

The next stanza in the song, Simple Joys, pushes me further, “Sweet summer evenings, sapphire skies. Feasting your belly. Feasting your eyes. Simple joys have a simple voice: It says time’s a living prize.”  Pippin then finds love and recognizes that love is core to his being and happiness.  In Love song, he sings “They say the whole is greater, than the sum of the parts it’s made of. Well if it’s true of anything. It’s true of love.

In the song Finale, Pippin finally reconciles the difference between dreaming and enjoying the simple things.  He sings, “I’m not a river or a giant bird that soars to the sea. And if I’m never tied to anything. I’ll never be free…They showed me crimson, gold and lavender, a shining parade. But there’s no color I can have on earth that won’t finally fade. When I wanted worlds to paint and costumes to wear, I think it was here, ‘Cause it never was there…”

Wait a minute!  “I think it was here… it was never there” That quote symbolizes what I have been yearning and want to achieve; appreciating and loving the simple things.  You can be free and live, while appreciating what is already here. You can find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I believe this is the true follow-on to the last blog, “Learn to live in the present moment”. It is critical to fill your life with love. That is why this musical has been so important to who I am and why it continues to touch my soul every time I think about it.

Before I go off on another tangent, I am going to stop where I am for this week.  Richard Carlson has many great additional recommendations related to Filling your Life with Love. I will share my thoughts and stories in the next edition.

For today I want to leave with the inspiration that we are all extraordinary and each ordinary moment is extraordinary.  We should love what we have, and remember that it is right here, NOW.

“While it may seem small, the ripple effects of small things is extraordinary.” Matt Bevin

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