A couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite shows of all time ended: The Office. Even a few weeks later I am still thinking about the ending. I am always nervous about a series finale because Seinfeld is also one of my favorite shows and I still refuse to watch the last one. And I think the difference between these two shows is what has hit me so hard.
I gave a talk one time called the Gospel According to Seinfeld. I talked about how Seinfeld was known as the show about nothing. The entire show takes place while Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer are doing regular and mundane things. There are bathroom jokes, episodes on going to the movies or going shopping. All of the brilliance that takes place on the show takes place while doing ordinary things.
The Office elevated this. The brilliance of Seinfeld was finding out what the four most selfish people in existence would do in ordinary situations. But the Office found out what happened when people found life in the ordinary moments. The show has an arrangement of characters all doing a dead-end job, but each looking at the job in different ways. Some were happy where they were. Others assumed their lives should be more than what they are. Some where looking back to the good old days. Others decided they were fated to stay where they were.
These are the kinds of places we usually find ourselves in life.
But at the end of the show, they all come to the realization that they found love, joy, happiness, community, hope and life in this dull, arduous, boring job. Real life was at their fingertips. And often they experienced it without even realizing it. The beauty of the finale was seeing the characters saying: “In those dull, boring days when I wished my life was headed in a different direction – THAT was when real life happened. And it was beautiful.”
Jesus comes to bring life NOW. He is not waiting until you get a better set of circumstances, he has not stopped because your best days seem behind you, he will not start once you get more successful. It is available now.
And if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss it.
If you spend too much time upset about your circumstances, wishing for the future or living in the past, you miss the joy, community, love and hope that is manifesting itself right where you are.
Office writer BJ Novak talked about writing the early shows. He said they had no real plot lines in mind, they just put the characters together and let them be themselves. When the characters found themselves in the same spot and were allowed to simply be who they are, this created stories and relationships among them. The show became popular because this is how life works.
Our search for joy, hope, and happiness does not come from the good ol’ days, or the dreams of something different, or the silent resignation of a life you don’t really want. We find them when we allow ourselves to be who we truly are, right where we find ourselves.
I think the message of Ordinary days is simply this: Be who you are, where you are.
You are needed right where you are.
Who you are matters.
You have a part to play in a story filled with love and laughter and hope. Don’t miss it by trying to be somewhere else.
The reason Ordinary days are so important is because they teach us to be. They help us tap into the divine energy available to us right now, in this moment. They show us that life does not take place somewhere else. There is a beautiful story to be told right where you are. The question is, are you willing to pay attention?