Most mornings, I run on the treadmill in my basement rather than leave the house at an ungodly hour in the biting cold. The basement is dark and cold too, but it has the added advantage of a small shelf where I perch my iPad to watch tv. I’ve run through Breaking Bad, Modern Family, Scandal, Frasier, Gilmore Girls, and Friday Night Lights, to name a few. Good stories are a powerful motivator. So is cake.
Often I find myself a good five years behind everyone else in terms of entertainment. I’m a late adopter of everything. I have a weird hang-up about following the crowd when the crowd says read this or watch that. Apparently, the statute of limitations on my crazy is up after five years. I currently enjoy everything the general public loved way back in 2010. This spring, I finally started watching Parks and Recreation. I’ve had quite a few near misses on the treadmill from laughing so hard. Humor and conveyor belts are a tricky combination.
Can I tell you how much I adore Leslie Knope? I do. I find her outlook on life utterly refreshing. She is genuine and charming and sincere, qualities your rarely see in tv or in real life. Sarcasm, snark, and delving into our own darkness make up the majority of our entertainment these days. They permeate our culture and have become our default setting when interacting with one another. I enjoy a bit of wit and sarcasm myself, but I wish I layered it with more kindness and sincerity.
Leslie Knope reminds me that we can choose to be happy, rather than perpetually disillusioned. We can believe in each other. We can (gasp) have fun at work, and still aim for excellence. Above all, she reminds me that our ordinary lives in small towns and in small jobs within our small circles of influence can be lived out with a great passion.
I want to love my small life as much as Leslie loves hers. When I fire up the treadmill for the thousandth time in the morning, when I rouse the kids from their sleep and we go through the same motions and they are arguing/ “caring loudly at me”, when I sit down to write and all that comes to mind is exploring more about what it means to belong–I want to bring the best of myself. I want to leave the sarcasm and snark behind and live with kindness, openness, and true sincerity.
Until I started watching the show, I didn’t realize how much I need lessons in wholehearted living. Five years ago, when I lived my Swiss fantasy life and “normal” felt like a distant memory, I wasn’t ready to receive it. But today, now that my flag is no longer planted on European soil and it’s firmly rooted at the crossroads of Everyday and Ordinary, I find myself listening.
Learning to live with our whole hearts invested right where we are tells a surprisingly compelling story. How are you living wholeheartedly today?