High Five! (Or should I say six?) Here’s to being ordinary.

I’m just an ordinary girl.

But I wasn’t born ordinary.

I was literally EXTRA ordinary.

I had an extra pinky finger – six fingers on my left hand – eleven fingers in total.

My mom said one of the nurses gasped when I came out, startled by my abnormality. My mother cried out in a panic, “What’s wrong?” When the doctor replied with, “It’s a girl. And she has an extra finger,” my mother said, in her ain’t no big thang way, “Oh, that’s all.”

And then she promptly attempted to strangle the nurse for scaring her to death.  (At least she thought about it!)

My “bonus” finger was amputated before I even left the hospital – destroying my chances of ever palming a basketball or becoming the concert pianist I always dreamed of being.

We humans are an odd folk…in general. Not just those of us born with extra digits.

We start out being celebrated for all the ordinary, normal qualities we’re born with.

Two eyes. Two ears. A nose. Ten fingers.

(Or eleven in my case.)

Any variation from ordinary is cause for concern, as the nurses response attested.

We then learn to copy  in order to find our way in this world. We’re celebrated when we repeat back what is said to us, mimic the actions of those in front of us, and reach all of the milestones that are expected of an ordinary human being.

We continue to spend the better part of our childhood – even into adulthood – attempting to fit in. The more we look, think, act and speak in a way that’s like the people surrounding us, the more reinforcement we receive.

But eventually we all yearn to stand out – to be seen for who we uniquely are. We begin the process of trying to be special. Attempting to add a little EXTRA to our ordinary.

I’m curious, is it possible that in our quest to be special, unique, extraordinary – have we lost our ability to be happy, content and at peace?

This past Sunday, sitting at my favorite neighborhood coffee shop, I found myself smiling ear to ear. I was overwhelmed by the simplicity in that moment. My ordinary life – and how magnificent it really was.

In this over-stimulated, consumption-based, fast-paced, results-driven, goal-oriented, constant-state-of-striving world, has an ordinary life lost its luster, leaving us constantly unsatisfied, yearning for bigger, better, more and next?

I saw a quote online that said, “I refuse to be ordinary.” And it made me wonder, “Why?”

What’s wrong with ordinary? When did being ordinary become an insult?

Dictionary.com defines “ordinary” as:

– no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional
– plain or undistinguished
– somewhat inferior or below average; mediocre
– customary; usual; normal

How did ordinary get such a bad rap? Especially when, let’s face it, for the majority of us, the better part of our days are spent doing ordinary, human, living-life things.

Driving the kids to school. Grocery shopping. Brushing our teeth. Doing laundry. Caring for others. Mowing the yard. Making dinner. Earning an income.

Could this be why many of us feel unhappy, uninspired and disconnected or zapped in our day-to-day lives?

Because we see the make-up of our everyday lives as mundane, unexceptional and inferior?

I have a theory that if you can identify the joy and juice in the ordinary stuff of life – whether that’s within you, in your surroundings or in the overall world in general – that’s where the extraordinary lies.

Extraordinary is not the next level up from ordinary.

It’s simply acknowledging the brilliance in your ordinary, day-to-day existence.  In the exact combination of details, interactions, experiences and circumstances that make up your life.

Unsatisfied with the dictionary definition of ordinary – perpetuating the derogatory context of the word in our culture – I felt the need to explore further.

The Latin roots of the word ordinary break out as:

Ordin – order or regular
Ary – pertaining to or for the purpose of

In other words, ordinary means “for the purpose of order” or “pertaining to regular.”

Who among us hasn’t benefited from a foundation of regularity and a sense of order in our lives?

“Nobody ever accomplished anything by being ordinary” – another internet quote – assumes that accomplishment is the ultimate goal.

And what is it that we’re striving to accomplish anyway?

Even people who climb Mt. Everest have to eat, tuck their kids into bed, go to work, maneuver relationships, get sick sometimes, sleep and wake, brush their teeth, wipe their butt – plus earn a living in order to pay for the trip and equipment to attempt the climb in the first place.

Are these ordinary things that make up life not accomplishments in and of themselves?

I cannot tell you the immense amount of satisfaction I have achieved by organizing a linen closet!

In our pursuit to live happy, fulfilling lives, the magnificence of the ordinary often gets ignored, lost in the shuffle or overlooked entirely.

So today, I ask you to consider another quote by Blaise Pascal:

“Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.”

Accept your ordinary inheritance, the natural, simple brilliance that is your life. Your unique hand-print on the world – whether you were born with ten fingers or eleven.  Or more. Or less.

Share the extraordinary in your ordinary below.  Recognizing it in your own life can help others see it in theirs.

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