Meaning in the Mundane


An otherwise ordinary day at Montrose Beach, Chicago, 1957

Thanks to my job, I get to hear a lot of stories. They are not all tales that would bring someone fame or land them on a bestseller list, but they include memories a family will treasure someday: funny things their kids have done, favorite meals, or how a couple met. When experienced in real time, these moments seem mundane, but the passage of time makes them meaningful.

  • Like the time a man recounted the story of how his good friend and college roommate taught him how to roll his socks, and now, 40 years later, he still thinks of him when he puts his laundry away.

  • Or how a husband and wife met over buying a used Fiat. The car didn’t last, but the marriage did.

  • Or how an Irish immigrant realized he was far from home when didn’t know how to open a beer can in America. He recently passed away at the age of 100—father, grandfather, and great-grandfather to many who call the U.S. home. (See Featured Story below.)

  • Or how a scrappy young man talked his way into a job as a truck driver, without ever driving a car in his life.

  • Or how a psychology professor would use the ridiculous things her kids would do or say as examples of immature brain development, much to the chagrin of her children.

  • Or the time a couple met in a large group for dinner, and the only way the woman remembered the man was because he ordered a plate of green noodles to eat. That couple would marry and their daughter credits that plate of green noodles for her very existence.

Time brings meaning to the mundane. The life you are living now, getting the kids ready for school, rushing to prepare for a big meeting, caring for a sick parent, even making dinner—they will be distant memories someday of a life you’re longer leading. Some of these moments will be looked back on with nostalgia. I think of that now when I read my daughter a bedtime story or watch my son run a cross-country race.


So savor these moments and document them! Within them are stories worth saving. No matter how simple or silly it seems, if you’re being honest and true in your telling, others will say, I get it, I remember it, or you’re not alone.


Connection through ordinary moments—that’s the true power of storytelling.

© 2020 Memoir for Me

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