It’s a pejorative word, isn’t it. Dismissive. Boring. Mundane. Much of our lives are made up of ordinary tasks and responsibilities, and we often aren’t happy about doing those things. We look for excitement and entertainment to divert our attention, losing ourselves in the lives of others. We do a lot to escape what we disparage as ordinary,
But when I really think about it, things I barely notice during a routine day become remarkable when I’m unable to do what I need or want to do. When I’m unwell, I miss the ability to smell or taste, the capacity to concentrate, the energy to do even simple tasks, muscles that don’t ache. So far my losses have been temporary, but I know that won’t always be the case. Then I will desperately wish to recapture my ordinary life.
I take for granted things that bring actual value to my days, often in favor of passing time with unremarkable and ultimately meaningless distractions. My friend Marshall took this photo during a NYC taxi ride. I both laughed and shook my head in resignation when I saw it, a scene with which we are all too familiar.
We regularly override ordinary time with other perceived needs, without recognition of how miraculous it is that we can actually take a walk, breathe deeply, look around, and acknowledge one another. It’s the ordinary that’s truly extraordinary. I hope one day we’ll wake up again and know this.