A few articles touching on the concept of ordinariness caught my attention recently. In particular, this wonderful bit: “…the dented ordinariness of which his undear life, like ours, was mostly composed.”
What a beautiful pair of words “dented ordinariness”. Although the tendency may be to think of that which is ordinary as somehow less worthy, it’s a mistake to view ordinariness negatively. The challenge of ordinariness is really the challenge of how we live our lives and to me, about the primacy of individual action and struggle in the face of a short, confusing life. Or, as one of the writers put it, “What is wrong with loving the life, whatever it is, that history has unloaded on you? Why invest time and psychic assets dreaming that things could be different?”
One of the central conundrums I grew up with was reconciling the “dented ordinariness” with that dreaming. Why was it, if we could imagine the existence and the feeling of being in an X-Wing fighter in outer space, like Luke Sywalker could, that such a thing was not possible? It is possible, obviously. (If this also sounds hopelessly naive, well yes that’s also true).
Over time, the ordinary becomes the common. Thus, common sense, commonplace, and community all rise from some sort of shared experience and values, not subject to much question after a point because they are the norm, the ordinary way things are done. There are in fact enough complexities in the ordinary things that keep most people engaged for a lifetime.
Where should our sympathies lie then? With the dreamer or with the ordinary human being?