When The Ordinary Will Do
It was exactly five years ago when I settled into my roomy leather upper-class seat, sipped my champagne as I surveyed my lush surroundings and decided that THIS was how I would always travel, whilst trying to look like this was how I always travelled to my fellow passengers!
However, I doubt I was kidding anyone as I pretty much looked like one of my relatives who back in the late ‘70s would return to Jamaica in a three-piece suit so everyone from the old world would see that life was treating them well in the new. But did I care? No. All I knew then was that I was “living my best life” as I waved my boarding pass like Charlie with his golden ticket entering the Chocolate Factory when I turned left onto the aircraft that I would spend the next 11 hours on.
Let me back up a little.
About a year before this trip, I had concluded that I wasn’t born for the ordinary. Of course, I had never said this out loud to anyone as I had read the story of Joseph and his multicoloured dream coat and things didn’t turn out too well for him, initially. Still, it was an awareness that I would pick at on days when the ordinary felt like Plan B. Growing up my differentness had always been highlighted by others because I literally stood out from girls (AND, frustratingly, boys) from reception until I left high school. Then there's my voice - as a young adult I was often asked by my peers why I sounded “white’? Apparently being black and articulate was a rare combination back in the early 80s.
So when I left for California in August 2015 I was high on hopes and dreams as I was no longer waiting for the elusive life-changing call, event or introduction - no siree, not this lady - I was going to "get it". What was “it” you may be asking? I will admit now that I had no clue. This adventure of mine was a cocktail of bold faith, abandonment and a double shot of “Jesus take the wheel!” But here’s something I learnt later that most people don’t tell you about “living your best life” and going to "get it" - it can be really, really uncomfortable.
Allow me to paint a picture for you.
Imagine that you and your friends are wandering around a theme park looking for the next gut-churning ride when you notice people excitedly folding themselves into little cars and you immediately decide that this is just the exhilarating ride you were all looking for.
Within a few minutes, you and your crew are strapped in securely, gripping the bar expectantly for what you hope will be an unforgettable ride. However, what you failed to notice is that at some point in your ride - usually at the end - you will be completely drenched from head to foot and, if like me you’re not fond of being wet and cold, misery will ensue and completely extinguish the thrill of the ride!
If any of the above resonates with you then you will have an idea of how I felt when I returned to the UK after my two-year adventure in sunny California, except, I sat in wet, cold clothes for several months. So, what do you do when things don’t turn out how you expected? You learn to embrace the freaking ordinary, that’s what.
Before I knew it, it was 2019 and it felt like everyone everywhere was either grinding, hustling or just looking as if they were winning so setting boundaries was vital for me to maintain my mental well-being like only showing up for selected family and friends and taking breaks from social media. There were days and weeks and months when showing up for work every day, doing what I love with amazing people, was hard work. But by December I realised that doing the ordinary repeatedly had made me more resilient. I was no longer chasing after the next adventure and had learned to sit in discomfort and work on areas of my life that needed attention.
By January 2020 I decided my word for the year was going to be “Uncomplicated”. I was going to strip things back and keep my life simple, to go back to basics as it were. Then as if on cue COVID-19 happened and overnight everyone’s life changed and we were all forced to embrace simplicity. Most of us had more time on our hands than we knew what to do with and once again the pressure was on to write that book and/or movie script, become a YouTube overnight sensation and re-design your entire life.
Weeping may stay for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. ~David
We are now into month six of lockdown and many of my friends have tried their hand at doing something as ordinary as sowing seeds in the dirt. They will tell you that watering seeds can be boring and labour intensive but when you begin to see the fruits of showing up every day you realise that sometimes the ordinary will do, which, depending on your perspective is actually quite extraordinary don't you think?