“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
I’ve been thinking about what separates the ‘ordinary’ from the ‘extraordinary’ ever since seeing the topic for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge on Friday afternoon.
“What’s mundane yet meaningful to you? What’s a beautiful everyday thing?
What is the ‘something extra’ which turns the ordinary into the extraordinary?
“I have seen so many extraordinary things,
nothing seems extraordinary any more”
It has been such a busy time that I’ve had to let the question percolate, without any opportunity to write or take photos. Friday was devoted to bringing in as many of our tender plants as possible ahead of the cold nights which have come upon us so suddenly.
Saturday was spent traveling and spending time with loved ones.
Today was our last opportunity to finish the multi-faceted task of bringing every last plant possible, indoors, before cold wind sends our temperatures to frigid lows, not felt since last March. We finished, already shivering, just before sunset.
We’ve been busy with ordinary tasks; yet the sum of them counts, perhaps, as an extraordinary effort.
“If you pursue happiness,
you are an ordinary person.
If happiness pursues you,
you are an extraordinary person.
Do not chase happiness; let it chase you.”
These photos I’m sharing with you today were taken just as the sun was setting; my last effort before coming in for the night.
I was looking for every beautiful thing left in the garden to photograph one last time, while its beauty was unmarked by our frosty night ahead. Who knows what we will find in the morning? That very uncertainty makes these flowers extraordinary to me.
And maybe they have shown me the answer to this koan.
Perhaps it is only our own perception which distinguishes the ‘extra’ordinary from the ordinary. Like all perception, it is entirely peculiar to our own experience and our own way of seeing things.
And yet our perception is a powerful force. In so many ways, we create our reality through our attention to things; or our lack of attention.
“My invitation to you
is to begin living every moment
as though you are miraculous
and deserve to live an extraordinary life.
Fake it if you must and keep faking it until it’s real to you.
The gift you will be giving yourself
is a lifelong journey of discovery,
one that is infinite and infinitely rewarding.
Begin the journey. Today.
This moment. Now.”
And so we are both the arbiter of the ‘extra’ordinary; and the creator of it, too.
It is through our appreciation, our own creative vision, that the ordinary becomes ‘extra’ordinary; and our mundane world transforms into a magical place.