Friday, January 28, 2011
THE POWER OF THE ORDINARY
I was just discussing with a friend of mine how her nephew was born in a family of overachievers. His father is a brilliant business man, his mother is a Nursing Administrator, or so I'm to understand. His older sister is attending school on a volleyball scholarship. His younger sister is being courted by colleges for her amazing basketball skills. She's only 15, fer chrissakes, and schools are already fighting over her.
The nephew. The middle child. He's been classified as ordinary. He gets ordinary grades, and isn't making any significant blip on the radar of life at all, and it seems to be driving him to despair. My friend suggests that he should make peace with his ordinary life in the face of all his family's achievements and accomplishments.
I believe that there is something extraordinary in the seemingly "ordinary." That there is more to ordinary people than we realize. That there is something that was not encouraged in these folks that other people do not notice. There are so many levels of achievement in this world that it just doesn't make any sense to have a child like this, this middle child, be ignored. My friend likens this child to being like most folks: They live, they move through existence for a time, then they die. My friend says that there's nothing wrong with that, but she makes it sounds so fruitless. So meaningless. So unworthy of notice or discussion. It was almost like his life were a penalty, or a consolation prize.
It's like my friend was saying, "They are of no interest to me, therefore they shouldn't be of any interest to anyone else."
Is it naive to believe that there is a secret to them these regular people? That there isn't a hidden "nobility" to them? That there is an excellence that can not be judged by we who only effectively achieve by the prevailing standards of a fickle society? For people to take notice of you, to take you even remotely seriously, you have to be great at sports, or have high academic/intellectual achievements, or be a fantastic artists, comedian, or musician. Or you have to be physically attractive.
What about being praised for having good character? An extraordinairy athlete/person like Tiger Woods did not, obviously, guarantee that he was going to have the requisite character.
Hell, the movie The Incredibles touched upon this issue of superheroes acting like everybody else. They used the phrase that "everybody was special." "That's because nobody is," retorts another, because they felt it was the lamentation of the ordinary.
I wonder still, when we are labelled a certain way, will we be moved to live up to our potential? Or will we live up to the title, and all that it implies? All that is continually heaped upon us from that point on?
We make such a big deal over the extrordinary. Those who achieve our notice. Why is ordinary treated so ordinarily?