Today is an ordinary day of the week in the middle of an ordinary month, in an ordinary season. Hopefully, it will be an ordinary year in my ordinary town in the middle of the nation. Some folks might interpret this description as being mediocre. Perhaps, in their mind, that may be true. In my mind, today is not mediocre despite it being ordinary.
After all, mediocrity can be found during special days, in event-filled months, in a favorable season, in a splendid city located in an amazing locale.
It’s good to feel grateful for ordinary days because we are less likely to become distracted by the hoopla surrounding special days. Also, ordinary days enable us to appreciate the specialness of days like holidays and birthdays. Ordinary, not lack-luster, days are times for steady, solid joy.
Ordinary is the foundation for everything. Ordinary is the root word of extraordinary. Ironically, appreciating the ordinariness of life is an extraordinary occurrence in a population that is sold on the ideal of having countless peak moments. What is not shown in the advertisements is the fact that ordinariness makes the peak moments noteworthy. We have been sold on the idea that ordinary equals mediocrity.
I’m like most people when it comes to food. The delights of a gourmet meal presented in an elegant place are wonderful and delightful. Superlative dining is a marvelous experience for which I’m grateful when it happens on a very special day. On the other hand, an ordinary meal on an ordinary day of perhaps macaroni and cheese with an ordinary side salad served on my utilitarian dishes in my pleasingly ordinary kitchen is wholesome and pleasantly satisfying.
If we take some time out to observe a fine painting or photograph, we notice that some of the most agreeable images are of ordinary people or things in ordinary places. Some of the most fascinating visual subjects to me are ordinary rooms with ordinary furniture with regular people captured decades ago during unremarkable periods of history. The famous artist Norman Rockwell had this appreciation for the ordinary. His ordinary paintings of ordinary situations of the day remain steadily popular.
Some of the most pleasing photographs show regular, everyday people doing normal, ordinary chores. I love to see pictures of regular, everyday folks in their ordinary surroundings in any historical or non-historical context.
We learn more about a particular nation, not by concentrating on the extraordinary and well-heeled, but by paying attention to the ordinary culture of the people who populate it. The ordinary is the engine of a civilization.
Some of the most memorable literature has ordinary characters. Mark Twain told tall-tales about regular, “everyman” people. Think of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. They were not the children of royalty and privilege, they had family backgrounds that were unremarkably ordinary for their era. In a similar vein, we have the poetry of Walt Whitman.
A satisfying exercise that anyone can perform is to make a mental list of all the regular people we know as friends and family. It’s satisfying to ponder the beauty they show when they’re relaxed, living their ordinary lives.
All of this is not to say that we should not set remarkable goals and reach for the stars. I’m basically saying that we are able to dream of great things because our sustenance and lives come from ordinary roots. It’s good to remember that in order to achieve extraordinary goals, the ordinary values of perseverance, hard work, and honesty make dreams come true.
I hope you enjoy something ordinary today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders something from the novelist Mary Anne Evans, aka. George Eliot. “If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.”