Over the years, the many stories have lifted my spirits and made my own challenges smaller. I love listening to these hero’s journeys. However, this morning I wished Krista was sharing conversation with an ordinary soul, whose adversity overcome were not of raging alcoholism, but simply of getting through the day; whose loss was not of limbs, but of the everyday loss of a loved one leaving; whose obstacle was not the voice of schizophrenia, merely the little voice we all hear inside – our self doubt.
So today I write of that extraordinary that is missed in the multitude of media available to us. The extraordinary of the ordinary that is us, that is you.
So how did I come to this topic? Cocooned under my covers, I listened as Ms. Tippett began the show introducing Kevin Kling, who was born with a birth defect — his left arm disabled and much shorter than his right. Then, in his early 40s, a motorcycle accident nearly killed him and paralyzed his healthy right arm. I was amazed at “motorcycle!” She went on to say, “Being able-bodied, Kevin helpfully points out, is always only a temporary condition. We take in his wisdom on the losses we're born with and the losses we grow into, and on why we turn these things into stories.”
Yes it is heroic. It is absolute astounding how fulfilled he is, his perspective from such tragedy.
And yet . . . What of the person whose tragedy is reaching that point in life where all the dreams they held of becoming, slowly fade with age? The person whose husband of 40 years leaves the marriage just because? The family that is torn apart by a son or daughter who simply stays away? The person who spent a life searching for purpose in the “shoulds” of living, the family grown, the career goals achieve, yet still feeling empty? The struggles, the losses, the challenges familial shared, their amazing stories unrecorded. Theirs is a story to tell. Theirs is Everyman’s story whose telling fortifies the spirit, if moments are taken to see that person‘s story and our own difficulties reflected in them. The trials, the challenges shared, their amazing stories, your amazing stories, unrecorded.
These individuals are the sherpas of the ordinary. The neighbor you admire, who at 80 still skis even though all his buddies have passed. The co-worker, who at lunch goes home to feed her mother lost in dementia and still finds her mother in the shadows. The friend who always is there for others though she herself is in need of support. These are the astonishing souls, the “ordinary” stories that let us know we too can have full and amazing purposeful lives being ordinary.
The definition of ordinary that first we think is, “the regular or customary condition or course of things.” Read on in Webster and you find, “a heraldic charge of simple form,” a fellow traveler’s quality that relates the simplicity of being. No portent of challenges, simply the portent of living.
A question, how do we triumph over the ordinary when all around us purports that fulfillment comes from great hardship? Who was it that said “lives of quiet desperation?” The whole quote by Henry David Thoreau goes,
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
Is not that the awe inspiring story? To live an ordinary life of day-to-day struggle and loss and find the extraordinary in your life, of your Self? No fanfare. No interviews. Simply sharing your extraordinary song with whomever you encounter.
It is not in waiting for that big moment to preserve, overcome, to move into your Self. It is living each individual ordinary moment and being your Self in it.