Not long ago, my family and I checked into the Crystal Inn while adventuring in Salt Lake City. The hotel is conveniently located downtown.* But as anyone who’s ever visited knows, blue-collar buildings invade much of the western half of the otherwise scenic city.
Since we arrived late at night, I didn’t get a good view of the surroundings. But the next morning, after the sun woke me by piercing the edges of my west-facing window curtains, I pulled the shade and reality quickly set in.
Had my suite description been brutally honest, it would have read “industrial-view room.” As I saw it, a couple of power lines split the horizon. To my left, a Denny’s was serving breakfast to early risers. To my right, a factory remained dormant. At center, a body shop was still shaking off sleep. Even two nearby birds seemed stained with manufacturing soot.
Smirking, I returned to the cozy king bed and continued staring. “How do you like that secon-floor view, eh?” I joked with my stirring wife. Not in a malicious way. I’m not above staying in average locations and do so more often than not. But the humor of the situation wasn’t lost on either of us, especially since hotels are notorious for overstating their digs. Not that this one did (they didn’t). Only that the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.
But even though this room wasn’t found at the end of a rainbow, it was, on this particular morning, enveloped in sunshine. The clear, vivid sky was as intense as it was blue. I couldn’t see the sun, but I could feel its overwhelming presence, which permeated even the darkest corners of the room.
In that moment, my smile transformed from a sarcastic one to happy one. Suddenly, I became genuinely grateful for the unremarkable view. It didn’t look like much, but it mattered. It mattered because that was the view that woke me on a recent adventure. The unfamiliar scenery reminded me that I was traveling.
It mattered because the sun still came up. Despite the dull surroundings, it still hadn’t burned out yet and thankfully wouldn’t for billions of years. And I’m thankful for new days, because they’re the lifeblood of new adventure—the fuel of opportunity.
As David Foster Wallace, The Last Place on Earth, and so many others have taught, life is mostly monotony. But blue skies, chance and sunshine often hide in plain sight.
So never let seemingly everyday occurrences discourage you. Be aware of your surroundings, even the uninteresting ones. Remind yourself over and over again that life is a gift, ordinary can be awesome and this is living.
*Although it sounds tacky, the Crystal Inn is a top-10 hotel similar to Hampton Inn only with better breakfast and much nicer service. The next time you’re in SLC, I highly recommend it.
Photo: Garrett, CC-BY
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Follow him on Twitter.