Ordinary Love

It’s been hard to hold back from posting the thoughts I have around Brené Brown’s TEDx Kansas City talk on the price of invulnerability.

If you take the time to watch the video, you’ll understand why. She touches on many of the other things I’ve talked about this week, about the idea of abundance vs. scarcity, about being “too busy.” I could have pasted that video into any number of my blog posts to help back up my own occasionally coherent ramblings.

But I saved it for Friday, because Friday is when I write about love. And it’s a particularly difficult Friday to write about love, for a variety of reasons, but I’ll stick with it as best I can.

A Life, Less Ordinary

The part of the talk that really drew me was the part where she talks about the way we fail to value the ordinary. The way we keep putting ourselves and our lives in comparison to what we read, what we see, who we know, who we were, and somehow come up with this conflation of who we should be (or, to hearken back to Monday, who we think we should want to be).

Whatever the bar is that we set for ourselves, it very rarely looks anything like the one we’re resting on. There is that critical voice that keeps telling us we should be thinnerstrongersmarterhappierproductiverfaithfullersexiercalmerpassionatercreativer. And as long as we’re not, we must be doing something wrong.

I know that I felt that way about a decade or so ago. My kids were approaching teen years, which meant I had more time on my hands, finally, and I realized that I was approaching the end of my parental responsibilities. I, who had been raised on the mantra of so much potential, suddenly no longer had the excuse of “I gotta raise my kids” to explain why I wasn’t yet the CEO, the bestselling author, the movie star, the winning politician I’d always been told I should be.

So I deliberately turned away from a few “ordinary” jobs, refused to settle for an “ordinary” relationship, and purposefully set out to blaze my own path through spaces unknown. I was a rebel against society, determined to be the unique little snowflake in a sea of snow.

It was tough. Let me tell you, I fell flat on my face more than once. But I persevered, and I succeeded. There is very little about my life that is “ordinary” by any common understanding of the word.

Extraordinarily Tired

You can guess where this is heading, right? I’m tired. Momentum keeps me going, but sometimes it feels as though this extraordinary life is dragging me along by ear as I stumblingly try to keep up. Last night a friend was talking to me about his hobby (shared with two other friends of mine) of home-brewing. He invited me to join the little group, and I would have loved to – except that I have to have at least 7 weeks when I’m going to be home to care for the process, and that just isn’t in the cards anytime soon. I love what I do, but it’s hard to explain to people like my parents the work I actually do to make a living. My views on things like sex education and cigars pretty much guarantee that I’ll offend people in any given group, but at the same time I work passionately at both to try and make the world what I think would be a better place.

I already can hear the “Oh, quit whining” chorus, and I agree. The purpose is not to whine; I’m very aware that these are the products of my own choices, and the many doors I have closed in order to open the ones I’ve gone through. As I see it, there are two choices I have, and I simply bring them up and lay them out because I think it’s slightly possible they may also apply to your own extra ordinary life:

  1. I can learn to appreciate the “ordinary” times: eating popcorn and watching TV while surfing facebook after a big pizza, doing yard work, attending a community dance, walking to the store for milk and toilet paper. I learn to look at them the way “ordinary” people (whoever they are, Brené doesn’t really mention it) look at vacations: a break, a rest, a time of enjoying the things you can’t normally.
  2. I can sit back and realize that this life that I have is just as ordinary as anyone else’s. Everyone has an extraordinary life by virtue of the fact that it’s the only one they have. This is what I’ve chosen to do with mine; my “ordinary” includes traveling half the year around the world, helping passionate people be moreso.
That’s the “ordinary” I believe Brené was talking about: not necessarily any particular class or region or habit, but simply taking the life you’ve been given and loving it.
I know, it’s a challenge. But really: got anything better to do?


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