When I speak extraordinary you already know what it means. It means stuff that is not everyday (ordinary) kind of stuff. So an extraordinary life is one full of extraordinary events, extraordinary achievements, extraordinary possessions…. Right?
I invite you (and me) to park this way of thinking: to take of the clothes of fantasy (just for the duration of this conversation) and look at the way life is and is not.
Ponder, ask yourself, what is your living made up of? Is it made up of extraordinary (wow!) moments? Take a deep look at someone who is living an extraordinary life: an actor, a celebrity, a singer, a politician, a business superstar. What makes up the bulk of his/her life?
I say that even one who is deemed to live an extraordinary life finds that his life is filled with ordinary moments: waking up, taking a shower, brushing one’s teeth, dressing, eating breakfast, ‘travelling to the office’, working (even celebrities work!), talking with people, lunch, walking, reading, sex, loving, hating ……..
It occurs to me that one way of Playing BIG, really playing big, is getting present to the fact that life is made up, for the large part, of ordinary moments. And using this insight to live in a transformed way. How? By being present to, finding and/or generating the extraordinary in the ordinary.
What is it that I am pointing at when I speak of ‘finding-generating the extraordinary in the ordinary’? Allow me to make that real for you and me, by sharing recent lived experiences:
1. I was out in the garden enjoying the sunshine and admiring the plants. A red robin appeared and perched on the branches of a red robin shrub! I found myself delighted: just gazing with wonder at the beautiful creature. Suddenly the red robin took off and danced so beautifully in the air. This graceful movement took my breath away.
2. We had a box of fresh vegetables (direct from local farm) delivered. I washed the cherry tomatoes and bit into one. DELICIOUS! Even now, as I am present to that experience, I notice that my mouth is salivating.
3. Lying outside in the garden with the sun on my the skin of self. I notice that the sun is hot and getting hotter. Then the wind blows through the garden, the chimes sing, and I notice the kiss of the breeze on my skin. Wonderful – so soothing. And a little ticklish. What a perfect world! That is the thought that hits me.
4. It is towards the end of the afternoon and the back garden is now in the shade. I get out the lawn mower and mow the lawn. It is hard work, I find myself sweating. I take off my t-shirt and continue mowing the lawn. Thirty minutes later I finish. I find myself so pleased with myself. Why? The garden looks beautiful and this sense of order, of beauty, leaves me feeling peaceful and provokes joy.
5. I find myself listening-watching a course on Coursera. I find myself thinking what an amazing world: all this knowledge available on my phone, my tablet, my laptop. And it is totally free!
6. Reading Philip Gould’s book When I Die, I find myself deeply touched about that which he shares about his battle-experience of cancer. I find myself laughing, I find myself crying. I find myself grateful that this man used his dying days to share his experience of cancer and provide hope for those of us battling cancer or other ‘diseases’.
7. I join the family in the kitchen. I am listening to my niece speaking about interviews and interviewing. Whilst listening I am doing my stretch exercises (‘bad’ back). Suddenly, I cannot stop myself laughing all the way from my stomach; Marco (son) is just made an insightful-witty remark as to what it would be like for someone to be in an interview with me. I am laughing so much that I have to stop my stretching exercise…..
It occurs to me that you/I can play BIG right now simply by being present the ordinary moment. And in so doing finding and/or generating the extraordinary within the ordinary.
I get that the voice in your head may be doubtful. Asking how it is that one finds-creates the extraordinary in the most ordinary of moments. This evening, I cleaned the sinks and toilets in my home. I experienced joy-delight. How so? I listened to beautiful music whilst cleaning. I danced whilst cleaning. And all the time I was present to this: I was in the process of bringing beauty into the world – for me and my family; and I was keeping my word to myself and my family which left me relating to myself as a person whose word counts.
I thank you for your listening. Live well. Experiment with being present to, finding and/or creating the extraordinary in the ordinary. I say you a life (a transformed living) to gain. And nothing to lose.
I leave you with this quote from Dan Millman’s The Peaceful Warrior:
There are no ordinary moments!