Celebrating an Ordinary Life

“And while it takes courage to achieve greatness, it takes more courage to find fulfillment in being ordinary. For the joys that last have little relationship to achievement, to standing one step higher on the victory platform. What is the adventure in being ordinary? It is daring to love just for the pleasure of giving it away. It is
venturing to give new life and to nurture it to maturity. It is
working hard for the pure joy of being tired at the end of the day. It is caring and sharing and giving and loving …”

~ Marilyn Thomsen

My first half of life was lived in a hurry and in the limelight. With a demanding role as a minister in a large faith community and traveling the globe, whilst also raising a family, there was no time for ‘ordinary’. I spent a lot of time on platforms, speaking to people. Add an embedded ideal of ’save our broken world’ and a slight Messiah-complex, easily adopted through the importance modern, charismatic Christianity puts on speakers and leaders, and I was a zealot convinced that ‘ordinary’ is simply missing the mark. You would be forgiven for thinking that ‘ordinary’ is really an unpardonable sin when listening to the many sermons preached from pulpits on Sundays.

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Other than religious ideas, we also live in a world that is enthralled with extraordinary. Don’t believe me? Pay attention to the relentless, consumer marketing machine or just have a look through the titles in the self-help section of a bookstore. Do you notice the obsession with perfection and excellence? It seems, at least in many developed countries, that being extraordinary equates to the right to exist. Now add the hyper-reality of social media, with photos of the ‘perfect’ family, holiday, house, car, designer-dog, and you have a virtual social world frantically trying to convince one another that they are anything but ordinary. The anxiety and stress this farcical comparison has created even has a name: FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – and it has reached epidemic levels.

So in direct protest, I am calling out this infatuation of our modern world with the idea of being extraordinary. In fact, not only am I calling it out, I am convinced that the worship of extraordinary has created a long list of human emotional maladies: comparison, frustration, depression, anxiety, discontentment, despair, exaggeration, lying, etc. No, I am not suggesting that someone suffering from a mental health issue has a problem with FOMO. I am suggesting that our continual obsession with excellence has created a toxic oxygen inhaled by modern society in every dimension of life (work, leisure, relationships, etc) and plays a contributing factor in mental health.

So I choose to celebrate Ordinary!

I am celebrating my tattered garden pants and gumboots.
I am celebrating the wrinkles and grey hair that points to living life.

I am celebrating the ordinary people behind the scenes, working
ordinary jobs.

I am celebrating the ones who society sees as a ‘burden’, their beauty and kindness so often overlooked in a world of botox and plastic surgery.

I am celebrating all the students who have the privilege of education no matter what their ‘score’, in a world gone mad on comparing the
intellect of the young.

I am celebrating the young ones who will never receive an education, stuck in some factory to serve the greed and vanity of others.

I am celebrating those millions and millions of ordinary people living in parts of the world where their life is hard and their death goes
unnoticed.

I am celebrating the places and people who live in parts of the world where the ‘prosperity’ gospel is exposed as a sham, but the good news of Immanuel flourishes.

I am celebrating the people in the pews, who hang their head in shame when they don’t feel they measure up to the challenges of ‘change’. You are beautiful.

I am celebrating our planet and its creatures, used and abused by
practices that are fed by the search for greater thrills, wealth and
importance.

I am celebrating the poor, those who are mourning, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful.

Today, I celebrate my very ordinary life – so far removed from the adrenaline rush that was the first half of my life. I celebrate the shattered triumphal ideologies that lie at my feet, grateful for the many failures that destroyed them. Day by day I live my ordinary life, I take a breath and reflect on the fact that I am a living being. Life does not need inflated ideas of self-importance to matter. Life is a miracle all by itself.

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So dear friend, pay attention to the voices that speak to you on never-ending sound waves. Are they suggesting that you are simply not enough? That you are ‘wasting’ your life with your ordinary routine? That you should be this or that – anything but you? Then perhaps it is time to ruthlessly declutter the voices that make you miserable. Life is Ordinary. Life is Beautiful. Grace is sufficient. You are enough.

“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

 

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14 thoughts on “Celebrating an Ordinary Life”

  1. Dearest Nic,
    As always you ‘say it as it is’ raw, honest and brilliantly said. This world of perfectionism is out of hand. More people need to agree to enjoy being ordinary, appreciating the simple ‘ordinary’ things in life.
    Love you heaps,
    Larissa.

  2. Hello Nicole, I don’t think you would remember me (that’s fine) I was a member of the said Church you mention
    here. My name is Cilla Dettwiler was Fabbricotti you may remember my dad Aymon?
    Anyway I don’t know how I stumbled on to your site but I have to say I’m hooked! It is now 3am in France ( where I live) and I have just finished reading all of your posts which were a breath of fresh air to read and extremely well written. I better go to sleep now or tommorrow I may not be my ordinairy self but a sleep deprived troll to my family!
    But here ´s to the Mugwumps and the future posts I look forward to reading!
    All the best to you and yours?
    Cilla.

    1. Cilla! I remember you and your father! I think he lives in Italy now? It is so very lovely to hear from you. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. So you are living in France now? Mark and I visited there a few years ago and fell in love with Monet’s home town of Giverny. Thank you so much for getting in touch.

  3. Well said.. Our competitive, materialistic culture gives inordinate attention to those that excel – never cognizant of the feelings of failure and inadequacy that this fosters in many. It also threatens the humility that should be a natural adjunct to achievement in any form, and feeds the narcissistic ego-distortion apparent in some ‘successful’ people. Its been recorded that great artists, inventors and composers such as Da Vinci, Vivaldi and Teslar always felt that something greater than themselves was working through them – rather than themselves being the ‘creator’. As soon as we think that the source of any creativity and wisdom we have is ultimately our own self, we are in a blind alley. As the Bhagavad Gita (Song of God) says: ‘I am the ability in man’.

    1. Thank you for your comment and contribution, Bruce. You raised narcissistic disorder which I would like to address in some future blog.

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