Bluebird Lane Blog
Bluebird Lane Blog

Moments of Transcendence in Everyday Life

by Lori Albrough

I find the subject of happiness endlessly fascinating.

I love to reflect on what makes people happy, why we think some things will make us happy, but then they don’t, and some of the apparent paradoxes of happiness, such as how taking on a new challenge can cause a lot of discomfort — both mental and physical — in the short- and medium-term and then subsequently a lot of happiness once you’ve met the challenge, risen above, and mastered it.

In fact, over fifteen years ago, we named our Fjordhorse farm after the bird which is the symbol of happiness in poetry and song, the Eastern Bluebird. Bluebird Lane, and the Fjords which live here, have been a very big source of happiness and purpose in my life.

In keeping with my interest, I like to follow Gretchen Rubin’s blog The Happiness Project which often gives me food for thought. One of her recent posts, about watching for moments of transcendence really struck a chord with me.

In this post she talks about how in books, movies, and plays her favorite scenes are often moments of transcendence: “when, in the muddle of existence, characters somehow manage to break through everything to engage with each other, and with higher values.”

Here, Gretchen shares a moment of transcendence from her own everyday life:

And I remember when I stopped by the studio of a friend who is a brilliant painter. His studio was everything you’d imagine: skylight, canvases everywhere, plaster models, coffee cans filled with brushes, all of it.

“Wait, I just have to finish one thing,” he told me, and he added a few more strokes of paint to a landscape he was working on.

I looked around at everything, so beautiful. “Jacob, you are lucky,” I said, in a fierce voice.

“I know,” he said. “I know.”

In the rush of our daily routines, it’s so easy to miss moments of transcendence. In art, they are masterfully presented, with language and emphasis that set them apart like jewels. In ordinary life, they rush by. I try to remind myself to look for them every day.

What made that moment transcendent is that she rose above the everyday elements and looked at everything with fresh eyes, realizing the beauty of the surroundings and of the man who was able to follow his passion and use his time and creativity to express himself.

I think of this now when I’m in the barn, especially at evening feeding, with the smells of clean shavings and hay, the sounds of the horses munching and pushing their hay around, looking for the very best bits to eat first, the sight of each horse, happy and healthy and well cared-for. This scene is so familiar that it’s totally commonplace to me, and yet, I realize there is no place I’d rather be and how truly beautiful it is. How lucky I am to be there! I think now of how an outsider would feel, seeing it with fresh eyes.

Even such simple moments as evening feeding can be transcendent!


4 Responses to “Moments of Transcendence in Everyday Life”

  1. Ellen Barry wrote:

    And so you give us moments of happiness when we read your newsletters.
    Always looking forward to them.
    Somehow they always seem to touch a truth in my life.
    Thank you.

  2. wendy satara wrote:

    I try and find things to be grateful for every day. The other morning I was walking over to my arena before work and was admiring the spiderwebs in the grass beautifully decorated with tiny sparkly dew drops and as I type I am being helped by my noisy rainbow lorikeet in my hair!

  3. sue freivald wrote:

    a number of years ago I was attracted to a little book by Jon Cabot Zinn (I think that’s right –it has been many years!) entitled “Wherever you go, there you are”. The heart of the matter was that your happiness and contentment comes from within you. The awareness, the being fully present in the moment, helps us become aware of the mysteries and beauties that surround us. When we are truly present in the moment, we SEE, and seeing, share in the the transcendence of our God given grace. We can become truly who we are! :~)

  4. Lori Albrough wrote:

    Great book suggestion Sue! Thanks for sharing that.

    I also have Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books: Wherever You Go There You Are and Full Catastrophe Living (the title of which was inspired by a line from Zorba the Greek, a movie I think I must watch some day.)

    Both of these books are about mindfulness, the first in everyday life, the second in healing physical and emotional pain and the effects of too much stress.

    I still have not progressed beyond reading and being fascinated by mindfulness meditation practice, but I don’t think you can read these books and not be changed somehow. The author has such a wise and gentle way of explaining the subject that it does not feel mystical or Buddhist so much as sensible.

    I included book links above for those who would like to check them out.

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