A dear friend recently offered me some advice and guidance — “love your ordinary.”
In a younger time of life, I can remember rejecting such notions. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to compete. I wanted to excel at everything. Job. Sports. Family.
Such desires to do well are natural. Whether as a young person, a middle aged person, or as an aging person. There is something to celebrate in any of our desires to do well, to learn, to improve.
Such desires also have a punishing side when not accompanied by a love of the ordinary. Or when steeped in competitive attitude that creates distorted binary perception — if you are not winning, you are losing.
The wisdom of a few years of living has taught me that not everything in life’s path is extraordinary. That learning to love the ordinary with the extraordinary is itself, well, extraordinary. Indulge me.
For many of us, we are sold a prominent story of accomplishments and smooth sailing. We buy the story. It’s hard not to.
However, also for many of us, the complexity of life, and some good friends, and some community — they wake us to the reality of failures and rough seas. Ordeals too are part of our extraordinary lives that compel us to a shared realness together. Which is rather extraordinary right.
I’m grateful for dear friends. That aren’t trying to razzmatazz life’s journey into something falsely smooth and exaggerated. I’m grateful for wisdom in them that cuts through sensationalism in its many forms. I’m grateful for dear friends that remind me to love my ordinary and to love the ordinary in the world.
One of the poems that I included in my book, A Cadence of Despair, is a poem that I’ve posted before. “Only Momentary” is included in the chapter “Simple.” It represents some essence learning about impermanence even when there is a permanence that many of us seek.
This place is only a stopping ground, attractive for its illusion of permanence and stability.
This place is most lasting in the awareness that it is only momentary.
There is some additional essence learning that I’ve noticed over the last couple of months. I think of it as two important points in a meta narrative and meta level invitation that welcomes a group into more curiosity and kindness together. These points rest behind what is a strategy and plans.
Participate In An Inherent Mystery — from the get go, I like how this principle, this invitation, disrupts the expectation of certainty. It recognizes from the get go that there are unknowns. That there are uncertainties in any path. That there is unfolding that must happen, not just plans made in advance. That there is flow to be experienced, not just strict adherence to mechanical process. we
Contribute To An Imperfect Evolution — from the get go, I like how this principle, this invitation, also disrupts a long habituated expectation of control. Contributing to an evolution, an imperfect evolution, has a kindness to it. It’s not a fix. It’s an offering. For me it means giving energy to improvements and to experiments. It means growing awareness that what any of us do in the now feeds a longer arc. It’s an invitation to contribute with head, heart, belly and hands. It’s an invitation to contribute presence, insights, and learning that go beyond the moment.
So, I’m glad that there are many of us that are nuancing the way we are with what is momentary and with what is lasting. I’m glad that there are many of us that are bringing these kinds of framings and awareness to groups for the wisdom that it helps to grow.
I’m not an economist. My understanding of capitalism as an economic system is simple and basic. I think of it as a system for producing goods and services that relies on market freedom such that a society’s needs and desires are fulfilled and such that overall health and well-being is created for individuals and for the whole. It’s impressive, this story. I benefit from so many aspects of living in a centuries old capitalist system.
While I’m not an economist, I am a systems oriented thinker. I come from the educational field of organizational behavior. Which means, I tend to give my attention to nuanced details of what it means to be connected, what it means for people to be in learning together, and what it means to experiment together. My particular orientation to leadership and organizational development is summarized well by the Zen saying — “Everything is connected. Everything changes. Pay attention.”
My learning in my field has taught me that with anything projected as good, there is some downside. The corollary is also true. With anything projected as bad, there is also an upside. Basic truisms are accurate except when they are not.
This multiplicity is true for such an overarching and simplified story as capitalism. Good for many that amplifies “haves” while at the same time punishing for many that amplifies “have nots.” It inspires with incentive well at the same time distorts and punishes aspects of self worth. It is impressive to have shared wealth. It’s not impressive to make wealth the defining quality of health.
I got the diagram above from friend and colleague Quanita Roberson, who I appreciate for her truth-telling. She’s not an economist either, but like me, comes from a field of organizational development. Together we tend to find it wise and needed to challenge the narratives embedded, and for too long unchallenged, in the way that capitalism as an economic system has hijacked inner relevance compasses.
These are deep patterns to change. Not from one narrowed declaration only to be replaced by another. But to massage the edges of absolutism. I’m glad to know so many people that want to shed the absolutist duality of good or bad, and that are reclaiming clarity and courage to live more honestly with complex multiplicity. I’m glad to know so many people that are daring to stop the hijackings of internalized capitalism to stand for a different kind of health, needs, and desires for the individual and for the whole.