The Pleasures of an Ordinary Life by Judith Viorst

Judith Viorst (b. 1931) is among other things an American writer and psychoanalysis researcher. She is known for her children’s books and witty poetry. I read a sober summary of the pleasures of an ordinary life:

I’ve had my share of necessary losses,
Of dreams I know no longer can come true.
I’m done now with the whys and the becauses.
It’s time to make things good, not just make do.
It’s time to stop complaining and pursue
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I used to rail against my compromises.
I yearned for the wild music, the swift race.
But happiness arrived in new disguises:
Sun lighting a child’s hair. A friend’s embrace.
Slow dancing in a safe and quiet place.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I’ll have no trumpets, triumphs, trails of glory.
It seems the woman I’ve turned out to be
Is not the heroine of some grand story.
But I have learned to find the poetry
In what my hands can touch, my eyes can see.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

Young fantasies of magic and of mystery
Are over. But they really can’t compete
With all we’ve built together: A long history.
Connections that help render us complete.
Ties that hold and heal us. And the sweet,
Sweet pleasures of an ordinary life.

I like the rhyme of losses and becauses. And the phrase “the pleasures of an ordinary life” that falls out of rhyme / each time. These pleasures, we learn are friendship, parenthood, safety, rather than victory and wild pleasure.

With the extraordinary she also denies the “grand story” (of religion) but instead she finds comfort in tangible, little things.

What really matters is the shared “long history” that holds and heals us. The connections that render us complete, the little story of the ordinary, is the sweetest pleasure. There is no redemption for our soul, we won’t be welcomed in heaven with trumpets. But we can rest assured that the pleasures of an ordinary life will continue in the hearts and minds of future generations.

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