Friday, July 1, 2011

Most Ordinary

"Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Day 25 Assignment: Most Ordinary by Patti Digh

We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (I’m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NYTimes best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (it’s all been written before, I shouldn’t bother). What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.

OK, right off the bat, I have to take exception to the Emerson quote. I believe there is good and bad, right and wrong. These are not merely labels that we create and stick on something at will. Laws exist because we live in a society where people don't acknowledge that there is right and wrong and do whatever they please. Spiritual laws exist that are above any laws or labels we can create. We know instinctively when we violate these laws, although it is possible to violate them enough -- and ignore that inner sense of right from wrong -- that we become dead to its guidance. That doesn't mean that good and bad, right and wrong don't exist. It only means that we chose to ignore them.

Anyway, interesting prompt for today. Of course, it wouldn't have been a prompt for today if I had started the #Trust30 Challenge on time... Coincidentally, that also lays into this prompt.

Let me explain what I mean... My ordinary self seems to be a bit behind. I find out about cool projects like #Trust30 after they have already begun. In this case, I started a week behind. I could have easily said, "Oh, well, I guess I can't do this because everyone else is already on day seven. Or, I could have compared my writings to those of other people in the challenge (some of whom are awesome writers), or of other styles of writing (some have written poetry). When I was trying to choose images for my blog posts, I thought about how fun it would be to do a photo response to the challenge. Or maybe a video response. There really is no limit to what you could do.

But, as some of the other prompts have dealt with authenticity and imitation, I think this prompt is similar. If we compare ourselves to other people, we are likely to lose our enthusiasm and drop out -- if we even manage to enter a challenge in the first place.

I'll be honest, there have been times when I thought that entering this challenge wasn't the brightest decision I've ever made. I could spend this time doing so many other things, and time is my most precious commodity. Once spent, you can never get it back. We are all given the same amount -- 24 hours a day -- no more, no less. But, how we choose to spend it, makes all the difference. Even our terminology is interesting... spending time, as though it were a type of currency.

But, I digress...

What are my false comparisons, expectations and investments in the story? I would have to say that when I allow myself to play the comparison game, I tend to compare myself with other who I assume are somehow better than I am. They are prettier, more self-confident, more talented, more courageous, more loving, more loved, etc. ad nauseam -- literally!

The truth is, if we insist on making these types of comparisons, we will always be able to find someone who is better than we are, and we will always be able to find someone we are better than...  At least on the surface.

"The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 
~ 1 Samuel 16:7

The problem is, we only see part of the story. God sees the big picture. So, really, our viewpoints and judgments are ridiculous. We don't know anything about what that other person has been through, is dealing with, or who they may touch.

Each of us are uniquely different. We have our own experiences an stories to tell. Your story won't touch the same people that mine will, yet both stories have the power to change someone's life.

"But one and the same Spirit produces all these results and gives what he wants to each person." 
~ 1 Corinthians 12:11

This is why we shouldn't think more highly of ourselves than is warranted (putting ourselves above others), but we should think soberly (Romans 12:3) because everyone has been given gifts. Imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was exactly like you or like me!

I was on a conference call this evening with Kaylania Chapman, editor of Proverbs Life Magazine. She wanted to discuss direction and upcoming projects and issues with the writing team. Again, the timing of this prompt dovetails nicely with that call. Each writer has signed up for 1 to 3 topics of focus. I could look at someone writing about relationships and compare my writing to hers, or I can realize that I'm better suited to writing on another topic and in another tone of voice.

My writing may not be as clever or extraordinary as someone else's, but it is uniquely my voice. And somewhere out there, is a reader with whom my writing will resonate. Rather than trying to be something that I'm not, I think I'll just be ordinary. It's who I am. And like a broken in pair of shoes, ordinary seems to suit me well.

#Trust30 Day Twenty Five

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