A Life Less Ordinary

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“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.” 
― Albert Einstein

Being ordinary can be a good thing. No-one really expects anything from you. No-one expects you to scale mountains or walk under water. Or fly like a bird to cast shadows below or walk without wanting to reach anywhere. No-one expects you to use hand signs to communicate or settle for the most edible thing in your plate. No-one expects you to survive depleting oxygen levels or numb toes. No-one expects you to face your worst fears or even conquer them. No-one expects anything but ‘ordinary’ from you. And, somewhere, along the way, you start to believe it’s true.

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“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” 
― Paulo Coelho

Strangely, I’ve always thought myself to be far from ordinary. It might sound pompous to some, and that’s funny, because, I’ve never been known for my confidence. As a kid, I thought, I’d become a famous saint. Maybe, it was a heavy dose of books on the pious or Sunday school or a systematic drilling of the need to be a good person. It faded as quickly as my fluctuating faith. In my teens, I thought I could become an astrophysicist. I suspect, it was all that staring out of my bedroom window that made me crave the stars. That went out of the window too. And in my twenties, I thought I’d write a book someday. Don’t we all have a good book in us?

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“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” 
― Helen Keller

When things didn’t work, I tried to be more ordinary. I tried to fit in, get a job that paid bills, conform to what works (whatever that maybe), and be happy with the thought of not being expected to achieve anything but the ‘ordinary’. I’ve realised being ordinary isn’t as easy, especially, if you’re not inclined to it. The challenges of wanting to achieve more — will haunt you and soon enough — you’d realise you’re not cut out for it. Regrets will kill you before boredom can. And, life will never be good enough.

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I’ve often wondered, what will we truly leave behind? Ordinary or not, there is aways going to be a pressure to be remembered. Will it be our footprints in the sand or the pictures we print? Would it be the words we write or followers we get? Would it be the number of likes or the smiles we spread? Would it be the memories we create or the lives we change? Would it be the places we’ve seen or the people we become? Would it be destinations we’ve reached or the odds we’ve evened to get there?

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“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” 
― Robert Louis Stevenson

But, do we really have to leave anything behind? Can’t we just be…

18 responses to “A Life Less Ordinary

  1. Pingback: Against the Odds: Winter 3 | What's (in) the picture?·

  2. Oh my – these thoughts are so much on my mind these days as I leave a job again to follow my husband’s job move. I totally get what you are saying about not being pompous but having the belief that you are not meant to be ordinary … yet finding yourself sometimes settling for (or even seeking) ordinariness!

    • You get me, Lex! 🙂 You’ve summed my post better than I could have. I wasn’t so sure of how this post would be interpreted and almost took it down. Thank you for your comment. It definitely made my day knowing there’s someone sharing a similar boat — across the globe. 🙂

  3. You’ve echoed so many of my own thoughts here Cheryl, touching on purpose, meaning, the pressure of leaving our mark behind and just blending in. Like you I consider myself ordinary but have to admit when I was younger I felt I was destined for big things. Now I’m content to not stand out and to go about just doing my business. Great post xo

    • We’re kindred spirits, Miriam. 🙂 I’m so glad to hear your thoughts on this post. It was a tough period I was going through and needed to let off some steam. 🙂 It’s a difficult choice to make. There are moments where I think of just ‘being’ or ‘living’. And then, moments of wanting to do something ‘more’ or being ‘more’. I’m trying to find the balance and am hopeful. 🙂 xo

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