Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

William Martin

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? *

*emphasis added

The Life of Mr. Derrick Beast
The Unsung Tale of an Ordinary Man

Mr. Derrick Beast was, as may not be assumed by his name, a simple and peace loving-man. Although large in stature and rough around the edges, he was of calm demeanor and gentle touch.

In his early years, Mr. Derrick Beast had many an adventure, but had long since learned that the greatest adventure of all was loving those around him. In light of this, he settled down. He found himself a wife and gave himself completely, every fibre of his being, over to loving her, as she to him. Their marriage wasn’t a fairy tale marriage, as no real marriage is, but the constant, conscious choice to serve the other over the self allowed their love to prevail.

Their fought for love blossomed into several children who were fiercely loved themselves. These manifestations of love grew and, as their parents had prayed for, moved off in order to find both adventure and love of their own.

Through it all, Mr. and Mrs. Beast made the daily choice to care; to care about their family, to care about the community in which they found themselves, and to care about the people no one else cared about. For this they became known for both extravagent generosity and kindness.

As the pair grew old in years, Mr. Derrick Beast’s prayer, that Mrs. Beast would pass on before him in order to spare her the pain of love lost, was answered. The following times were haggarding on an already old soul. He was still himself, but only a third of what he used to be. Some think a marriage is two halves, but really it’s three thirds; me, you, and we.

Selflessly loving others helped dull the throbbing absence, but Mr. Derrick Beast soon followed on. His gravestone, per his wishes, read:

Mr. Derrick Beast lived for many years
and died having lived a satisfying life.
He breathed his last and joined his ancestors in death.

Mr. Derrick Beast was a simple and peace loving man. He was a jack of all trades, but a master of none. He was not an extraordinary man. In all ways, he was simply ordinary. His name will be forgotten. Memories of him will fade away. Songs will not be sung about his deeds and children will not learn of his exploits in school. His was not that kind of legacy. The legacy of Mr. Derrick Beast is one that lives on in the lives he touched and the ones they touched. The accomplishments and accumulations of a man ultimately fade, but the ideology of Mr. Derrick Beast, to live simply and love deeply, is what will continue on.