06 August 2007

What is Ordinary?

Last night my family was talking about some of our favorite people and all that they've done. And I learned a lot about some people I though to be "ordinary," the ones that are content to stand at the sidelines and be overlooked. Like the family who lent their car and gas card to a friend who needed to make regular trips to a far away hospital. The wife that lovingly slaves in the background of her husband's chaos. The pioneer/immigrant who wrote about the smallest details, like the name of the ship, or what they ate. My uncle who when asked when the best years of his life were, always answers "right now;"and even though he doesn't have much, gave me emergency money to take to Brazil in case I got stranded for whatever reason.

While I'm sure we all agree that these acts are far from common, I'm also sure none of these people wrote about these acts in their journal because they thought these were ordinary acts. They were just doing what they thought was right. I'm sure they didn't sit down early in life and write these things on a "to do" list. I'm sure they don't look back on their lives and say "Man, I'm really generous." And I know for a fact that they don't bring it up in a crowd of people.

I often catch myself confusing the word ordinary, for unimportant..."I haven't done anything special with my life, so I must be doing something wrong. I'm obviously not that important in the day-to-day occurrences of the world." But when I think of what the world would be like without all those so called ordinary people...it brings a tear to my eye. A world full of crazy extremists, or people annoyingly bragging about their accomplishments, or simply doing absolutely nothing. That is not something I want to experience. Sometimes I see the people who I think are extraordinary and I realize how grateful I am to be ordinary--grateful I didn't have to fight off cancer, that I didn't have to overcome abuse, or neglect, or discrimination, that I didn't have to sacrifice my home, or family, or freedom. ...I only hope that if/when my chance to be more than ordinary comes I will make the right choice, and then be humble enough to act like all the amazingly ordinary people I admire.


Liz W. said...

Heather, I find your perspective refreshing. And you're right on everything.

I, too, have been amazed to find out things that "ordinary" people in my life have done.

I suppose I just struggle with seeing myself that way. I always feel that I wasn't enough.

Heather said...

I have the same feeling about myself, I feel like such a slacker when I compare myself to others around me...but then I have to remember that life isnt a competition against those around us, it's a journey to reach our potential...and we all have our own pace. I'm actually really excited to read our book club book...it's by Sheri Dew, but I cant remember the title of it...katie knows--do you read these katie?

I bet you didn't know that you are on the list of my fav people. You are also high on my list of people I want to spend more time with...