Remarkable, amazing, astonishing, sensational, extraordinary. All words that we wish described us. But why? I was shaking in a yoga class recently, in downward dog, which is supposed to be easy, and the teacher shared some wisdom that stuck with me. He said, “Stop striving to be extraordinary or better than all.” Most of us are addicted with trying to be extraordinary and special. It is no wonder when parents always tell their kids, you are special, one of a kind. This is all well and good but what is wrong with an ordinary life well lived? It is almost as if, in a fame hungry world, that becoming well known or envied is the goal.
While hiking the Camino de Santiago this addiction to extraordinary kept popping up within myself. I wanted to be faster, learn more, and walk better than all. It was a monster I didn’t see coming. I did not want to walk the Camino de Santiago to race in any way shape or form, yet there it was, the extraordinary monster, trying to create suffering within me. An almost audible oger of sensations constantly comparing and wanting to become, “amazing, remarkable.” I think this is why so many of us are dissatisfied, almost constantly with our self percieved meaningless and unremarkable lives. It is because we are addicted to extraordinary. Breaking down the word, we truly should be striving to be extra – ORDINARY. The irony is, those that find happiness and contentment in the ordinary somehow become what most of us wish were were, amazing.
A poem featured in the book The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents by William Martin illustrates this idea perfectly:
Make The Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and 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.
So just for today, let us make ordinary the goal.