Living an ‘ordinary’ life


There is a Zen saying: Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.

There are books written on what this might mean: A simple statement that carries loads of meaning.

It can mean that after all is said and done, the every-day things we do are still there.  It can mean that how we do every-day things is also how we do everything, big or small; and that what we encounter in life isn’t nearly as important as how we meet those things that we encounter.

It could also mean that living an every-day “ordinary” life can be just as fulfilling and worth-while as living a life filled with adventure to remote places.

Today, and for a while yet, most of us have been forced to narrow the focus of our daily lives to what’s in front of us; to what we may see as “ordinary”. If you’re used to being busy, then this might be a real hardship for you – this luxury of time you never asked for.

Chop wood, carry water – how can you make that simple task meaningful for yourself today?



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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at 


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