Life isn’t the mountain tops, it’s the steadiness of it all

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Life isn’t lived on the mountain tops, my friend said, it’s just made up of the everyday things.

Such a profound statement, and so true.

When was the last time you were on a mountain top, either physically or one built on dreams?

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My friend at the coffee shop here in Picayune where I often eat lunch was speaking of the ones built on the dreams of youth when everything seems possible. Older now, as I am, she said she has finally decided that life isn’t made of mountain tops, it’s made of the everyday things such as honey-dos and other chores. Yes, she actually used the expression “honey-dos.”

How humdrum! How ordinary! Yep, that’s what life basically is — ordinary. There’s nothing wrong with ordinary, either. Think of the alternative, and I don’t mean mountain tops.

Ordinary is good, despite all the self-help books that tell you that if you only follow the advice given between the covers that you won’t be so ordinary. The writers of those books seem to think that everybody but themselves are lazy and unfocused. Actually, I am of the opinion that the writers spew this stuff as a way of feeding off the wishful thinking of us all so that we will plunk down our dollars and buy the book, which, of course, adds to their personal wealth, maybe lifting them a little above what they consider the ordinary.

Before we can really discuss the ordinary, maybe we should try to define the extraordinary, if we can.

Is extraordinary defined as the presidents and governors, senators and congressmen and others of that general ilk? Personally, I think not. As in any human enterprise, extremely few could be said to be extraordinary. The vast majority are, in my opinion very ordinary indeed. Of course, some fall a level or two, or maybe several levels, below ordinary.

Is extraordinary defined simply by wealth? Again, perhaps a few of the wealthy are extraordinary human beings, but most aren’t or we would know much more about them. Stripped of their trappings, how many would we detect as being wealthy. I suspect that under those circumstances that only a miniscule number would make much of an impression. Many of those who become known as wealthy are also known more for their misdeeds than even for their wealth. Again, a few are known for the good they do.

How about the artists, musicians, writers and actors? Surprise, surprise. Extremely few are as good as the opinion so many display of themselves. Most are very ordinary in every way except perhaps for having a modicum of talent. A very few, of course, deserve the renown heaped up on them.

Are the extraordinary to be found among scientists, medical doctors, engineers and others of such professions? Sure, a few of them at least. Think Einstein in that category and then try to think of others. You will, of course, think of a few, but really just a few.

Gee, where can one turn to find the extraordinary? Again, how do you define extraordinary?

Take a hint from the above. Ordinary is filled with the extraordinary. They just don’t fit the perception of the extraordinary, those who swing from mountain top to mountain top on lightning bolts from the clouds. Despite the valleys between the mountains, we can’t seem to visualize the extraordinary having to climb down off one mountain to struggle to the top of another. It seemed so easy in our dreams when we are young.

No, in our dreams and between the covers of the books written to tell us how we can become as extraordinary as the authors, there is no ordinary. The ordinary only exist out here in the real world, and so do the extraordinary who can become so just by flashing a smile at the right time. Yes, that’s right. Those things which make a person extraordinary, at least for a moment, have little to do with mountain tops and a whole lot to do with making a moment magic, lifting the spirits or something else of rather ordinary roots.

This isn’t to take away from the Einsteins of the world. Some people are meant to tower, but not all who are extraordinary from moment to moment in their ordinary lives are meant to tower, or would want to.

My friend is right. Life is made up of the ordinary and not of mountain tops. Even the ordinary, though, has its extraordinary moments and who among us isn’t from time to time extraordinary.

Youth is grand for its dreams, as long as the we outgrow the ones we can’t live. At some point along life’s path, most of us, like my friend, realize that ordinary isn’t bad. In fact, it doesn’t feel so ordinary lots of the time, which brings us back to those darned definitions again of what is ordinary and what is extraordinary.

Funny, isn’t it, how extraordinary is made from two words — extra and ordinary.