Appreciating Everyday Life

The normal happenings of each day help beautify our lives. They are like the trees planted to spruce up a city block, or perhaps a painting in a room acting as a fixture to draw the eyes. They may be hard to notice in the moment, but the sum of our moments would be far lass valuable without them. I simply appreciate that life exists and I am part of it.

In my introductory post for Normal Happenings, I said, “if you ever catch me straying, remind me to go back and read this post.” Perhaps this post should be added to that arsenal as well, readied for the day I inevitably fall off the wagon and start speaking incomprehensible gibberish that only makes sense in my own head.

I want to take this time of relative respite, while the big events of the past few months — things like Tracking Shells or the Blog Awards — to reemphasize what Normal Happenings is all about. I’ll call it a renewal of vows, if you will, perhaps because I’ve recently been concerned I’m reaching a bit too far outside of my writing core. It’s important I slow my roll and do a deep-dive into my own motivations. After all, over-ambition can get the best of me — a topic I intend to discuss in an upcoming post.

I see so many of my friends and family so transfixed by the darker aspects of life — rightly so, events can seem pretty bleak when all goes wrong — that they’re no longer phased by moments of levity. It’s something I like to call anti-naivete. This failure to pierce the heart’s emotion makes me mortified of people when they’re turned off by a cheesy love story or are unable to find happiness in another’s accomplishments.

This past year of writing my heart and sharing in the memories and experiences of others has led me to some real moments of clarity. In a manner, I write this blog out of selfishness. That may not be the right word, but what I’m feeling fits the spirit of the word. Perhaps a better label to put on Normal Happenings is self-preservation, as selfishness implies a negative where none exists. I write about appreciating everyday life because it grounds me to a reality that there’s more to life than darkness. Or rather, it’s the small but glorious events of life that ground me. I write to share them with others and literally make the world a better place. One year ago I had one reason to attempt to renovate the world through words; now I have 563 of them. Well, minus the spam accounts — I hope the robots find what they’re looking for.

I take moments to watch the dust riding on the sunbeams filtering through the window blinds because I seek beauty in a life where solace can seem scarce if I forget where to look. Whether this is the first time you’ve read a post here, or you’ve read every single post I’ve ever written over the past year, I’m genuinely just glad you’re along for the ride. Come help the world appreciate everyday life.

“Change this something normal / into something beautiful”
– Jars of Clay

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Adventure Map | The Games That Define Us

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Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Welcome to The Games That Define Us, the second Normal Happenings collaboration! Starting on November 1, you will be embarking on a 34-day long journey through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. These contributions go beyond mere game conversation, though each of these artists have proven time and again their ability to think critically about game mechanics and presentation. One need only view their blogs to see they are well-versed in the art of critique.

But that’s not what The Games That Define Us is all about.

This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

What does it mean for a video game to define you? It can be hard to tell at first, but here is a good starting point: close your eyes and just think “video games.” What games pop into your head? Maybe there is only one – if so you may have already discovered the one that defines you. If there are several, ask yourself which one is the most meaningful to you. We think that is where you should look, and we would love to know what game defines you in the comments. Perhaps it’s even one of ours, and if so, you’re in for a treat.

This adventure map will serve as a guide through each day’s pieces – a table of contents, if you will. There will be a mini-version affixed to each post, but you can treat this as a table of contents or a launch point. We recommend reading each post in order, as they are arranged by game release date. However, feel free to dive right in to your favorite games. With these incredible bloggers, you simply cannot go wrong no matter where you start. And with that, let us begin The Games That Define Us!   

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative bloggers. Help us with the resources to make even greater collaborations in the future. We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about finding optimism in everyday life. Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place.

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Be Happy for the Success of Others

Human nature is that of competition, from the ancient plains of the savannas in the past, to the girders and steel of corporate metropolises on the present, and likely the far-flung future of asteroid mining and space colonization. Because of this drive for dominance, I’m about to say something that runs counter to culture and common sense. It’s an uncomfortable request – a plea completely unnatural when intersecting with the human condition:

You should be genuinely happy for the success of others.

Normal Happenings isn’t about telling you what to do – it’s more about the exploration of concepts that can lead to a bigger appreciation for life. However, in this particular case, I’m asking you: please try to be happy when good things happen to others. It will lead you to a better life. Continue reading “Be Happy for the Success of Others”