Ordinary life is just so ordinary, we say. And we forget that it’s also life.
New Year’s passed, Western and Chinese alike. As a special night and day, it was passed in special ways.
Ways that I, frankly, think of as generally stupid. What else do you call it when people who keep complaining about their lack of money go out of their way to blow up their hard-earned cash in pretty explosions of light and loud booms? How is it sensible to start out the first day of a new year sleep-deprived and with a hangover?
When we are alone and quiet we are afraid that something will be whispered in our ear, and so we hate the silence and drug ourselves with social life….. Friedrich Nietzsche
Then again, what good would it be not to mark the completion of one of life’s cycles? We’re all too little aware of them anymore, anyways; and starting out a new cycle like any other day just misses the need for their marking.
These kinds of things, you will best decide for yourself, considering the social circles you’re in. The way such special days seem to require extraordinary behavior, and the extraordinary can only be defined (and done) in certain, actually rather ordinary, ways should, however, give us pause.
After all, we want our lives to be a bit special in general, too.
A life of boredom is hardly a life worth living.
The rise of social media has only lifted this theme to all-new heights, given all the attention and seeming success accruing to those who do extraordinary things and even appear to be extraordinary beings. Our attention is drawn there, we will have strong feelings about that which we notice, we will be inspired (or appalled) – and all we do, for the vast majority of our time, will pale in comparison. It’s inspiring what feats the top athletes can perform, what kind of success and level of accomplishment many a personal development guru can apparently achieve (and how), what charisma and control and intellect so many a modern myth’s hero can portray.
You? You’ll never be like that. And so, if we compare ourselves only with the seemingly best, and nowadays not just the better ones in our immediate social circles (where we’d probably see a mix of talents and also know of the problems they’re facing and the weaknesses they have) but the top-of-the-(online-)world ones, how should we ever be satisfied with what we ourselves can do and be?
The problem even applies to yet more simple things. Looking around at what people seem to do, judging by what one hears about, there are only the wildest parties, the longest runs, the most sexual experiences, the polyglots who know the most languages, the fastest learners, the fanciest dishes.
In comparison, what good is the run through the boring city neighborhood where you could go for a run, the going-out just to chat with a few friends, the hard and slow slog of learning you might be able to do. Let alone, having to do the dishes and wash the dirty laundry, cook just to put food on the table, perform in the drudgery of a job…
“[I] abhor the dull routine of existence.” (Sherlock Holmes)
Understandable a thought, but it’s elementary that existence is predominantly routine, and it is as dull as you allow it to be. Outside stimulation may be necessary to break us out of routines, but it can also become a drug of choice blinding us to how existence is only as dull a routine as we allow it to become. Nothing against Sherlock Holmes, but maybe the superior intellect – or at least, the superior ‘liver‘ – is one who does not need a break of routine but makes his/her existence less dull and routine. I don’t think it takes a superior intellect to live and make life more interesting, creative, better, either.
The problem isn’t that life is so ordinary. There is adventure in the everyday, if we just seek it.
It is your life and what you do with it that holds the key. All the social comparison in the world isn’t going to do you any good, all the dreaming about what others have and do isn’t going to change you. Those we see as great and accomplished also have their weaknesses, sometimes perhaps even in and through the awe-inspiring presentation of and adoration for their greatness. After all, if you are getting too much praise (and get too good at ignoring the trolls, as is somewhat necessary nowadays) you will also get a skewed sense of yourself and may miss the criticism that would let you get better. You have to live your own damn life. If you want it to be better, make it better.
Better isn’t what’s great and most-adored. And, more importantly, life isn’t only that which is great, let alone what one gets publicly acknowledged, let alone adored, for. The great challenge we all face is to live predominantly ordinary lives – how could they be anything but average, on average? It’s not an accomplishment to do something you’re really good at and easily get accolades for doing without getting better at it and trying new things. There, it’s the greater challenge to just do ordinary things, live an ordinary life, and find and create the better in it, anyways.