An ode to the mundane
On gratitude and finding sacredness in the everyday
Deeply tuning into the world
Sometimes you wake up and you feel like you are just doing the same things every day — which, in fact, is what most of us do. Of course, every day cannot be the highlight of your life. However, I think that it is important to celebrate the small everyday things. To make them sacred, to appreciate and be grateful for what we have. To become a bit more aware of the mundane things that bring us joy.
(A ray of sun on my skin on a really cold day)
(An encounter with a friendly cat on my way home)
In a way, the way we see the world we live in these days is profane, analytical, and very influenced by the logic of capitalism — we tend to perceive things with a very pronounced difference between us as subjects and the things around us as objects, undervaluing what it is not “us” and discarding whatever is not useful to us.
Mircea Eliade, in his book The sacred and the profane: the nature of religion, says: “Modern nonreligious man (…) regards himself solely as the subject and agent of history, and he refuses all appeal to transcendence (…) Man makes himself, and he only makes himself completely in proportion as he desacralizes himself and the world. The sacred is the prime obstacle to his freedom. He will become himself only when he is totally demysticized.” “It should be said at once that the completely profane world, the wholly desacralized cosmos, is a recent discovery in the history of the human spirit…for the nonreligious men of the modern age, the cosmos has become opaque, inert, mute; it transmits no message, it holds no cipher.” 
(A new leaf coming out of my pothos plant)
(Noticing meaningful coincidences)
Is stripping away all bits of magic from our life "good"? Does it lead us to progress? I once heard someone defining their belief in astrology (something that along with other new-age-y stuff has been trending more as globalism and capitalism push traditional religions away) as “I don’t know if I truly believe in it and I don’t really care if it’s true or not, it makes life more enjoyable and that’s all I need”.
Amidst aseptic bureaucracy and mechanical tasks, an appreciation and gratitude towards the love and magic that light up this world is almost a survival tool. The mundane is so full of small tender details, that even when accidents and mishaps happen, they help us feel less like a cog in the machine. Familiarity helps us feel safe.
(A coffee stain on my shirt)
A simple cup of coffee can make us have feelings of gratitude towards the person who prepared it, the farmers that gathered the beans, the time set aside to enjoy it, the financial ability to afford the drink, the flavours of the coffee, the warmth of the cup… “As Seneca argued, (…) gratitude has the potential to bind us closer to one another, to strengthen our communities and relationships.” 
Many of the things that pass through us on a daily basis have been prepared by invisible hands (or at least, hands so mundane or marginal that they are often overlooked): the service sector, your past self, a loved one, the different people in the production chain… A second of thought and compassion can reframe the way we interact in the world, being thankful in all circumstances.
(Fresh clean bedsheets)
(Running errands with a loved friend)
Little everyday spells
I have "little everyday spells" written in my Instagram bio. To me, that means making the mundane sacred through my art practice, ritualizing my actions, navigating life through symbols, and entering the language of myth-making. A world with no magic, no myth, and no art is a world of disconnection from life.
Artists often use their art to capture certain mundanities in a special way. Think about still-life paintings — little windows that allow us to admire the shine and roundness of grapes and the texture of a vase from a rich and meaningful perspective. When reading a novel, a writer might linger giving a lengthy description of the scenery, allowing us to carefully observe and notice its importance. In street photography, mundane scenes are captured and elevated to be appreciated in a different way. The street seller is now the subject of a portrait, and the couple taking a walk makes us wonder what their love story is.
In this way, the mundane, belonging to the earthly world, can catapult us to a higher realm, thanks to the artist. Art can act as a portal to show and tell bigger things through the small and ordinary. Art and rituals are ways to make the mundane sacred, little intentional actions that make us relish the present moment. To be able to create these little everyday spells, we must first deeply observe and listen to the world carefully, noticing all the details that usually get overlooked.
A couple of years ago I lost two sets of earphones in the same week. I didn’t feel comfortable buying yet another pair of earphones nor I could really afford it that month. So I started to go out in the world without listening to music or podcasts. It was the first time since my teenage years that I had gone out to run errands and work without listening to "anything" — although I was listening to a whole different array of things: birds chirping, people chatting, the wind and the rain. My eyes were also refreshed from this and I started to look at the buildings in a different way, noticing small architectural details and the way light and shadow play throughout the day. I was looking at the world with a child-like wonder, even if those were the same streets I had walked through time and time again; the same wonder one feels when traveling somewhere for the first time. This also gave me more time to process thoughts and feelings as they popped into my mind, instead of ignoring them.
The ordinary and the tangible and their relevance cannot be overlooked, especially in an overly technologized world where attention span is shrinking, and devices that prompt escapism and pacifying are at the palm of our hands. We can challenge what is established through deep observation, noticing, and gratitude (of the world, of ourselves, truly seeing and accepting each line and dot). Small changes compound towards a kinder world.
Sources + Further reading
—  The sacred and the profane by Mircea Eliade
— Life’s lil pleasures by Art And Such Evan
—  True gratitude is a communal emotion, not a wellness practice by Michal Zechariah
— This gratitude exercise by Amelia Hutchison (@art_therapy_irl)
— Art and The Ordinary: Literary and Visual Constructs of the Mundane by Jenessa Kenway
✸ Keep a gratitude journal or a journal of small joys
✸ Go to a park you have gone to many times before and draw what you see. You will notice details (colours, textures, elements) you have never seen before
✸ Create a little altar with everyday things you appreciate. Turn it into a still-life painting.
✸ A bit of newsletter housekeeping: I’ve been told that some people (Gmail users) receive my newsletter in the “Promotions” tab, lowering the chance to read it. I personally have the sorting system deactivated, but if you have found the mail in said tab, moving it to your primary inbox helps Google recognise the email as non-promotional. You can also add the sender's email (my Substack email) to your contacts. Nonetheless, you can (almost) always expect a new post every last Sunday of the month.
✸ After letting the project rest for a while (ie. two whole years), I’ve been taking some (baby) steps, putting together all the replies I got to the question What does home mean to you? — If you would like to share what home means to you and participate in this project, you can click the button below (it is anonymous). I’m aiming for a 2x2m quilt with all the answers, mixed with some embroidery and illustration.
Thank you for reading until the end! I hope you have enjoyed this piece. You can also find me on my own website, my online shop, Instagram and YouTube. If you are able to, please consider getting a paid subscription to the newsletter ☻
Have a great Sunday!
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