What exactly is ordinary? Well, it is defined by our individual perspectives of course, so for that reason it tends to look different to each one of us. Another's life, whom we may think of as "extraordinary", might seem nothing more than usual to that person. We probably think movie stars and sky diving instructors live extraordinary lives, for example, and of course from our POV they do, but do these people themselves agree? Perhaps. What so often happens though, is that what we become accustomed to day after day and year after year eventually becomes uninteresting, leading us to boredom and a lackluster experience of life. So as it relates to life itself I would describe "ordinary" as our experience when there are no unique events or changes going on. Unfortunately it has become synonymous with boring for many people. I used to be one of those people.
I think humans have a lot more potential than this. But is our problem with ordinary itself or just how we have chosen to look at it?
A little about me:
I stopped loving my life several years ago. From the outside looking in, things seemed really great. I had a loving husband, two beautiful children, a career in nutrition that had lots of potential, a great house in a nice neighbourhood in the city I loved....I had my youth, my health....I could go on. I had a LOT to be grateful for and I knew it.
But there was a big problem.
The proverbial "honeymoon" was over. I felt like I had somehow "arrived" yet I was disillusioned by all that I had accomplished and acquired. I had grown bored of my life and was restless. I had an irresistible desire to shake things up and make my life more exciting; to find some spark of life in making things new again.
Sounds positive, right? Well, yes. And no. Yes and no. The problem wasn't the problem. The problem was how I went about handling the problem. You see?
What happened next was that I nearly destroyed my marriage.
I could have tried to do what I had done in the past when feeling stagnant: I could have gotten a new hairstyle, thrown another dinner party, re-arranged my living room, even taken up a new hobby. But I knew that this time it wouldn't be enough. I could sense that this was a deeper longing that wouldn't be filled by any of these small changes. What I was feeling was an emptiness that I had subconsciously been trying to fill for a very long time, and this time a major shift was on the horizon.
Sometimes I wonder where I would be now if I'd had left the life I knew. I'd be living in a new place, probably with some new furniture, possibly in a new part of town. I might have a new partner and some new friends. Maybe even a new job. Who knows? All I can say is that everything would be very different, I'm sure.
At least that's how it would appear on the surface.
The truth is though, that most of my inside would still be the same. Confucius said, "Wherever you go, there you are." And that used to make me chuckle, but now I see the wisdom in it. We may try to escape ourselves in many ways, but until we dig up our roots we haven't really gone anywhere at all . In my case, eventually I would have grown restless again....when things were settled; When the "distraction" wore off and I grew tired of the new "ordinary". I would still be carrying the same old negative thought patterns (my perspective) like shackles around my experiences. I'd still be a prisoner of my own mind. Luckily, what happened in literally the eleventh hour - just as I had one foot out the door - was that I made the decision to stay. And thankfully my husband wanted the same.
The major shift that I had sensed on the horizon, I discovered, was to be an internal one. I chose to work on myself from the inside out, rather than the outside in......And it was the most powerful choice I could have made. It was also the hardest work I've ever done.
I chose to stay. I chose to be still and sink further into my restlessness and my boredom. And do you know what? The most amazing thing happened from that place. I began to change perspective on my entire life. I was granted the ability to see it from above, rather than from "trapped" within it.
And then I began to create!!
The boredom was transformational. And to think I had been running away from it for most of my life!
I began to re-imagine my marriage. I began to see the perfection of it, rather than the flaws on it. I moved back to my tiny hometown and relearned to see it in a positive light, shedding a lot of old negativity from my childhood in the process. I began to reshape relationships with family members and many of my friends. I lost some friendships, too, but I made a lot of new, very genuine ones in the process. Also, and SO importantly, I began to change the way I was parenting my children.
I am still undergoing these changes and the process is a lifelong commitment. But the difference now is that I see how perfect and magical it all is. A better life couldn't have been designed for me. Sure, at times I have my work cut out for me, but each hurdle is gift; a blessing where there is an important lesson to be learned.
I am also learning to love myself during this time. Deeply. Unconditionally. Compassionately.
Another huge bonus is that I have found the most amazing well of creativity and power inside of myself. I have learned that WE CAN ALL create anything we want to.......if we can believe that we already have everything we truly NEED, then we create a platform to take what's already there and transform it into what we truly desire! Yes! We are that powerful.
What happened in my case is that while I was doing this work and discovering this creativity and power internally, I also began to harness it and manifest outwardly. Externally, my hands were mirroring the process. Without even realizing it at first, I began to take ORDINARY household items - things that had often been forgotten and left to collect dust - and transform them! I was making them beautiful by injecting them with new perspective. My business, ReLOVED, was not something that I had planned. I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that I would be making jewelry for a living....and certainly not out of silverware and old bits and scraps. It just happened organically, as a manifestation of my inner work. How wonderfully unexpected!
I always tell my kids, "There's nothing wrong with being bored. It can be our greatest opportunity for creativity." (Insert eye rolls here) I'm pretty sure I'm right about this, though! And I think a lot of people say similar things to their kids, but I have to ask, how many are willing to actually follow their own good advice? How many are really okay with being bored? How many can resist the urge to keep themselves distracted and busy all of the time?
Remember when we were kids? Before smart phones and the internet? Before we had a gazillion extra-curricular activities at our disposal? When we had TV, but needed to wait until Saturday mornings for the cartoons? What on Earth did we DO? Well sure, sometimes we complained that we were bored, but when there was nothing easy or convenient to fill our time with, we CREATED our entertainment. And we had the most fun imaginable!! We were brilliant. We made up games and crafts, we built forts and pretended to be superheros, we discovered underwater worlds and jungles......
There was nothing we couldn't do.
And we were right. We possessed the ability to create something very magical out of seemingly nothing at all. Now tell me, where did that ability go?
I believe our challenge today is to relearn this lost art and apply it to our adult lives. Also, and most importantly in this day and age, we must foster it in our children as well. Because they are growing up in a society that would have it otherwise.
Ordinary is sacred. Stillness is magical. This is where our true freedom lies.
To relearn to love, honour and cherish the little things.......
To be at peace with what is, and stop striving for bigger, better, newer, more exotic, or just altogether different.......
To see the innate beauty and potential in ALL things.......
Now THAT is truly extraordinary.