The path to restoring home-life will be in restoring the ordinary. It might not be easy, but it should be rather obvious what to do. If someone takes a ball away from a child, the child will in any case know what to look for—that is, unless it’s gone so long he begins to forget, or, those around him keep handing him other things to distract him.

Many of the ordinary functions of human living have been taken away from us. I use the passive voice here of necessity; how does one say who has taken them away? We can’t really say that ‘they’ have taken away singing around the piano, story-telling, sitting on the porch, reading aloud, and the shared work of home. Who would ‘they’ be? Yet this much is sure, somehow these things have functionally vanished. In 1930 Andrew Lytle called these “the ordinary functions of living.” He continued:

The rights to these human functions are the natural rights of man, and they are threatened now, in the twentieth, not in the eighteenth, century for the first time. Unless man asserts and defends them he is doomed…

It has been well nigh a century since Lytle penned these words. One might reasonably be concerned at this point whether we can go into our collective memory and rediscover what perhaps has never before been ‘lost’ to man. What does one do when what was and arguably should be ‘ordinary’ has faded to a vague memory and feels strange to us?

One remains calm, and gets to work. There is good news here. Given the intrinsically ‘ordinary’ character of such activities, as a rule they will always be there for the choosing—even if it takes intentional effort; and even if it feels like we’re swimming against a riptide…just trying to do the ordinary.

Of first importance is realizing that we are not alone. There are growing numbers of people who want something better and who are making different choices. I see them with my own eyes. Families are opting for the ordinary. And they are achieving something extraordinary.

We can begin with one or two things and really lean into them. Maybe it’s growing a garden this year. Maybe it’s reading aloud together. But these might be a little daunting. Perhaps the most simple is going for a walk together. Let’s begin there; not for the cardio aspect (though that’s a great effect), but just because; just because it’s an ordinary way of being together, and enjoying one another as we enjoy the beautiful world in which we live.

This is in our reach. Others need not know or feel that this is something of a project, even though it is. The only way for something to be really ordinary is for it to be done with some regularity. The first steps are right outside our front door. And who knows to what wonderful places they might lead.

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