We live in a culture of extraordinary. Let me show you what I mean using the following quotes from some well-known and not-so-well-known voices of our day:
“I’m intimidated by the fear of being average”
“I'd rather be weird than ordinary. Ordinary is so boring.”
“Common people are often enough; that is why God made so many of them. Your job is to be--- EXTRAORDINARY.”
“I don’t work at being ordinary.”
Looks like being ordinary = bad. Which is really a shame considering that by the world’s standard most of us will grow up to be ordinary people
When I initially began thinking about this idea, I didn’t want to go to the worn out Mormon (p.s. I’m a Mormon) conclusion I've heard my whole life that we’re all children of god and as such we are of a divine heritage and have a literal spirit father in the all-powerful, all-knowing, unconditionally-loving God. Although, I do believe that. However, since that applies to every person on earth, I wanted to set it aside in this case to explore the idea of extraordinary people. I wanted to find ways in which extraordinary means different and apart from others. We are all from the same spiritual origin, so that wasn’t what I was looking for. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the extraordinary as, “going beyond usual, regular, or customary.” If everyone is extraordinary, then no one is by mere definition.
I also didn’t want to come to any certain conclusion to my answer. I don’t think there is a one-right-answer-which-trumps-all-other-answers to most questions in life. I fear that for too great a portion of my life I have regarded a moment of inspiration about a topic as the full extent of what I needed to know about it. Or even worse, that there isn’t any more to learn because “I totally get it now.” I consider this now and see so many opportunities gone by to dig deeper and unearth new knowledge. There is a lot to be learned in the gray areas of life.
Having said that, I did think of a category of behavior which sets apart an extraordinary person from an ordinary person. A couple weeks ago I spent an evening with my sister and her daughter who is almost two years old. She is a single mom. That is the best description I could give her situation. You get it. It’s not a walk in the park. The whole night I caught myself sticking my foot in my ignorant mouth time after time. Here I am a young, single, childless working professional with seemingly no perspective or tact saying stuff like, “it seems like she is always congested and hoarse-voiced, is that just how she sounds?” only to get a response about not being able to do much for it because of x,y, and/or z. Cool move, Shelly. That’s pretty cool. Might as well become best friends with this girl:
About an hour ago as I was driving home I turned off the podcast I was planning to finish from the ride up and left my thoughts to do their thing. Ordinary vs. Extraordinary popped up and started to swirl around and collect little pieces of memory from the evening. And you’ll never guess what happened next! Click here to find out!
Anyway, knowing that her struggles are real, it makes a great impression on me the attitude that she has through it all. In spite of the difficulty and worry that is ever-present in her life she is so loving to her daughter and I’ve maybe seen her lose patience with her once or twice, if that. She doesn’t complain or blame others and is teaching me a lot about motherhood. She is an example of a truly extraordinary person. Someone who rises to the challenge in a tough situation and does so with grace, kindness, caring, and love. I just came across this article and this is what I’m talking about. It seems you can’t be extraordinary without a hole to climb out of or a mountain to summit. You can’t feel the triumph of getting to the top without first making the climb. Looks like the pre-twerking Miley Cyrus knew what was up.
Maybe we are all just ordinary people with extraordinary moments. Maybe everyone is extraordinary in their own way and even on a regular basis, but we don’t stick around long enough to find out how or why. Maybe extraordinary is in the eye of the beholder. It could be none, all, or some of these considerations. Perhaps the extraordinary is sprinkled in with the ordinary and like Ferris Bueller said, “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
p.s. it's my birthday. go me.