On the Preciousness of Being Ordinary

A photo of a dishrack with colourful ceramic plates lined up in it. The colours are slightly muted, so it's not super cheery.
Tracey Hocking.

“Ordinary isn’t the enemy but instead something nourishing and unavoidable, the bedrock upon which the rest of experience ebbs and flows. Embrace this — the warm water, the pruned hands, the prismatic gleam of the bubbles and the steady passage from dish to dish to dish — and feel, however briefly, the breath of actual time, a reality that lies dormant and plausible under all the clutter we pile on top of it. A bird makes its indecipherable call to another bird, a song from a passing car warps in the Doppler effect and I’m reminded, if only for a moment, that I need a lot less than I think I do and that I don’t have to leave my kitchen to get it.”
– Mike Powell, An Ode to Washing the Dishes

I remember, as a teenager, making dramatic declarations about how I could not possibly do something "normal" or "boring" or "ordinary" with my life. My mom, in all her wisdom, would point out to me that most people had regular lives and that was a good thing - the world doesn't need us all to be big and flashy and impressive. It needs us to contribute on the ground.

Of course, at the time I would say that sure, that may be what the world needs, but some of us get to be extraordinary and that's what I needed to be. I was desperate to be lifted up onto some kind of pedestal of specialness, which of course, was only because at my deepest core, I hated myself and craved mountains of external affirmation to balance it out.

Now that I've learned to like myself, I have a deepening appreciation for the ordinary, as Mike Powell puts it, as "something nourishing and unavoidable, the bedrock upon which the rest of experience ebbs and flows."

How comforting.

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