In praise of ordinary

Maybe it’s a year for being ordinary; transparently and happily ordinary; though others may be offering what appear to be more exciting adventures.

‘New year, new you!’ they say. Be sure no one’s saying, ‘Be more ordinary!’

But if there’s pressure – whether imposed by you or others – to be more outstanding, this may come as something of a relief.

Ordinary is not generally considered good. No one wishes to be mere ordinary. ‘Ordinary’ is a grievous insult.

Though the truth is, I am ordinary and so are you; composites of damage and glory, limitation and gift, each of these handled with varying degrees of skill.

Some won’t allow this, however. We are not allowed to be ordinary. We must strive for more, we are told, we must be extraordinary! There’s spoken or unspoken pressure to be ‘simply amazing’ and frankly, we’ve failed if we are not.

But we’ll be wary of these desperate prophets. Only self-punishers and the need-to-achievers shun ordinary and insist upon extraordinary.

With untethered hyperbole, those with no answers for the daily round of being human, must somehow attempt escape into another universe.

And like moths who cannot resist the light, we flutter towards it: the promise that we can leave the crowd, find wings, be amazing.

This is the land of hero worship, re-birth, new fads, overblown promises, naïve claims, freshly-annointed gurus, enlightened states.

And it sells like hot cakes.

The gentle-voiced leaders offering a ladder to heaven, a new life, the promise of dreams come true, and how it appeals…anything to get us away from the shame and frustration of being our actual selves.

Jung calls this spirit the puer aeternus – the eternal boy, though it could also be a girl; those drawn to loftier heights, a purer air, ideal situations, away from the difficult gravity of their daily lives.

And ultimately, all as hollow as a Post Office apology.

So, putting down the hyperbole, and flattening out the prose, maybe it’s a year for coming home to ordinary, where there is a truer happiness; happiness that is less disappointing.

We’ll leave the self-punishers and the need-to-achievers and the ‘get-me-out-of heres!’ to their unhappy striving towards a goal that will always disappoint.

And, given its bad press, ordinary is surprisingly good. Ordinary is possessing strengths and weaknesses, which we all do.

We are all quite ordinary.

And happy ordinary is being aware of this truth; an awareness which enables us to handle ourselves with more care and shine more truthfully.

We will handle our weakness with kindness and common sense; and our strengths with gratitude and discernment.

And that’s enough. We don’t need a ladder. We’re here already. Nothing special; all quite ordinary really.

As ordinary as a star in a clear night sky.