On The Relief of Being Ordinary…


Aren’t we tired? Aren’t we all tired of our quest to be extraordinary?

The need to make one’s mark in a world full of people who are also trying to make their marks is exhausting. There are myriad self help books on our night stands, only half read because we tell ourselves we cannot possibly achieve what this book says we can, so we buy another one and another. There countless gurus and influencers on social media, screaming at us to live our best lives and then dare to tell me exactly what my best life looks like; money, fame, physical fitness, vacation homes, children with excellent grades and full rides to the best colleges. Plus, the flood of newly certified life coaches in an already overflowing market trying to heal themselves by healing others. “You are enough!” they tell us (or you will be once you buy my book, take my class, subscribe to my $1600 per month online course). Because, of course in order for us to be enough, we need to pay them so they feel enough. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

It is insane the amount of pressure we are under to do more, achieve more, BE more Be more? Be more what? One meme reminded me this morning to “go out and conquer the world.” Why does that meme author believe the world needs conquering? What makes her believe I am the correct woman for the job? I can assure her, I am NOT. While I’m pretty sure I lack the skill and resources to conquer my city block much less the world, I’m absolutely certain I lack the desire. I have difficulty keeping up with basic housekeeping, and I am adequately self-aware to know I am not the right person to be in charge of an entire planet.

Plus, there is too much world conquering going on right now to suit my taste. Right? Enough with the world conquering already. #prayersforUkraine.

The best self-help book I have ever read is “You’re Doing Great,” by Tom Papa. I read it often. Actually, the audio version is better because Tom reads it in such a fun way. If you are feeling stuck, if you feel you are too much or not enough, that you should be doing more or weighing less, or should be further along in your career or that your retirement fund is inadequate for your age, Tom can help you with that without a single burpee, career change or side hustle. Speaking of side hustles; WTF?? Aren’t we all hustling enough in the front and sometimes the back, without also doing it on the side? I’m tired. I do not want nor need a side hustle.

Best self-help book ever.

In his book, “Yoga and the Quest for the True Self,” Stephen Cope describes ten stages of what he calls The Reality Project. Stage 7 is the relief of being ordinary. Reading this passage was a game changer for me. Now, like you probably have, I have had many game changing moments in my life. In this last trimester of life, I have realized that just because the game has changed it doesn’t mean the game is won. Conversely, it doesn’t mean the game is lost either. The game will change as long as we continue to play it.

“Yoga and the Quest for the True Self,” Cope, Stephen 1999, Bantam Books

Although it feels like we are alone in the struggle, most of us have felt this. At one time or another, the majority has – at least once – been that child who tries too hard to get others to like them. It can be as harmless as bringing cookies to share, or morph into something else more sinister. I struggle constantly with the choice of simply enjoying my college classes and the need to maintain my 4.0 GPA. The idea of going back to school in my 50s and graduating cum sum whatever, is a really great goal, something to tell my grandkids. But, if I got a B in a single class, it might just a be relief. I could stop running and just enjoy the view.

Like cells in the body, each of us is a part of humanity. When a cell of the body starts behaving outside its authentic cellness or celluosity (made up words) it can become a cancer. It can encourage those normal cells around it to become discontent with their ordinary cell beings and then they spread throughout the body destroying everything in their paths. History is full of famous human cancer cells who have been discontent with just being a person, resulting in the same destruction on a world level (i.e, Hitler, Mussolini, Cromwell, Sadam Hussein, Bin Ladin, and this Putin guy – in no particular order). But we don’t even need to go that far. There are kids shooting up classrooms because they want to be remembered for something extraordinary. Those people who stormed the U.S. Capitol last year might not have been caught had it not been for the selfies on social media caused by their need to be seen as more than those of us who simply went to work that day.

Unfortunately, very few self-help books, influencers, or life coaches encourage humanity to be ordinary humans. Just as there is no profit for the medical industry if we are all living healthy lives, there is no money for the self-improvement industry if we are all content with who we are. So they cheer us on when we are succeeding in the way they define success. I have fallen victim many times to the addictive qualities of praise and accolades. Why is it hard to give up something we don’t want to do but at which we excel? Obviously, our exceptional abilities in the role makes us perfect for it, right? We are rewarded with money and applause and feel foolish for wanting something else. What if we aren’t good at something else?

We are, ultimately, just ordinary humans. I am no greater than you, you are no greater than me, and they are no greater than us. We all have our extraordinary moments, of course, but what makes them extraordinary is they don’t happen every day. If they were constant, then they would just be ordinary. Which brings me around to the final point.

If we can be kind and gentle and content, if we can not only look for the good in others, but also the good in ourselves, we can be extraordinary every day. If we are extraordinary every day, that becomes our normal. If we surround ourselves with people who are the same normal as we are, then together we are ordinary people.

No race, no comparison, no competition. I personally am delighted with it.

What a relief to be ordinary.

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