My friend Sharone showed me this card last week, from the Osho Zen Tarot deck. “I’ve been looking at this one a lot lately,” she reflected. “It’s helping me a lot.”
I felt myself recoil. Ordinary has never been a favorite word of mine. At the same time, I knew what she meant; both of us, it turns out, have spent our lives seeking grandeur, a way to escape the ordinary. Probably we thought ordinary meant bland or boring, and lumped it with other words that brought to mind a world we didn’t want to be a part of. But there’s no escaping it: the ordinary seeps into our daily lives and when we ignore it, we soon find ourselves living in chaos.
“After the ecstasy, the laundry,” as the Jack Kornfield title goes. My version of this has been, “After the crazy youth, hanging clothes out to dry.” What I mean by that is, actually, that I find bliss in these things.
But ordinariness can be quite hard on the ego. That’s why we avoid it in the first place, right? I get a panicky feeling when I see photos of my mother when she was my age now, and remember times when I thought she looked so grown up in them. Now I look that grown up. Now I spend my days cooking and washing and folding and vacuuming. Suddenly my identity gets lost as the frame zooms out and I blend into an endless line of women before me that also had a crazy youth, then had kids, did laundry, cooked, etc. It’s the ultimate humbling train of thought.
Mothering is the most amazing teacher of ordinariness. What it has taught me is this: there is pure love in everyday tasks. In them lies a pretty direct path to surpassing the small concerns of the ego, at least for the moment. But look at the image on the card—it’s not the “ordinariness” you might imagine. In fact, it looks divine. Perhaps the ordinariness I truly seek to escape from is a state of mind that habitually feels unfulfilled.
What are your thoughts on ordinariness?