Ordinary, or extraordinary?
We have become a people who look for extraordinary things every day. Remarkable accomplishments. Salacious news of extraordinary beauty and suffering for Angelina and Jennifer, or John Edwards, or Tiger. Or earthquake disasters that we only pay attention to if the casualties reach more than 1,000 in the first day. Extraordinary rescues after an extraordinarily successful company has had an extraordinarily disastrous accident. Have you noticed how many extraordinary accomplishments are by some gallant entity repairing the fallout from another entity's extraordinary [corporate] success?
Did the invention of the airplane make life better? How about the automobile? Lightbulb?
Of course on some level, they did. And so did accomplishments in things like civil rights - extremely important, like medical breakthroughs to ease suffering and improve health. I pray people will keep being inspired to make heaven on earth.
It's just that there is a rampant drive for improvement and change that becomes the end itself, and can have inhumane consequences. What is progress? [I know this is not a new question.]
People in our lives [me included] are blown away by my husband Don's farmy endeavors. Raising chickens for fresh eggs, cultivating a big garden, making jams and preserving fruit, tapping maple trees for sap. Isn't this what people have done, quite ordinarily, for thousands of years? Not to take anything from him, but does it not strike you as odd that we find it extraordinary?
And why do we feel unsatisfied if we don't feel something extraordinary every day? Remember that first kiss? How many first kisses do we need? Why do we have to type exclamation points? Have our words lost meaning? Just. Simple. Words?
Chesley Sullenberger flew airplanes for 40 years, and we didn't know who he was. He just did his job, very well, and became an airplane safety expert. Then he was called upon by the universe to do an extraordinary thing. He crash-landed a plane on the Hudson River, and everyone survived, thank you very much. Isn't it wonderful that someone who did their job day after day, faithfully, was ready for a moment's call to a feat of unfathomable grace and impact?
By far, the majority of the people in the world maintain an ordinary existence. They will never ride in an airplane. Never type on a laptop. Never turn on a water faucet inside their home. They will survive only by the strength in their arms, legs and determination to fight through the land and to the well another day. And by the mercy of the universe to survive remarkable, global, corporate success. And yet, by and large, many of them are happy.
I am in pursuit of the ordinary. I'm reclaiming it. And it's not easy. In this day, in this place, I'm finding it extraordinarily difficult.
-photo by rauf in India; he said, "Go ahead, Ruth, use any photo you want," or something like that.