The Ordinary is the Extraordindary.
Words: George Maguire
Perhaps symptomatic of the Millennial footprint on modern culture, we now live in the age of the outlier. Wherever we look; in sports, entertainment, business or science, we see extraordinary individuals battling with previously considered impossible tasks.
These outliers, whether they are CEO’s, Olympic medallists or free solo climbers all share a common desire to reach new heights and do so through gifted genetics, voluminous work ethic, technology and by access to what neuroscientist & performance experts call ‘flow states’. Our Instagram feeds are filled with savants of their respective crafts. The ordinary & simple life is relegated to ‘something to do when older’ or better yet… ‘never’.
By achieving these peak states, we can see the frontiers of what could be. Psychedelic trips, extreme biohacking and Vision Quests open the doors to sensations & states that can utterly transform our perspective. However, these heightened states, so often unregulated, have their own set of dangers. After moving mountains, mentally, physically or spiritually, we are often left confused, no wiser than before. Novel stimulus without wisdom stands on volatile grounds. We are often absurdly ill-equipped to incorporate what we have experienced.
The tremendous power of peak experiences to open us to new possibilities is its own Achilles heel. Like a painter that is given a larger colour palette to work with, they are not suddenly a better painter; they just have more potential and opportunity for growth. The problem is there are no innate tour guides, yet there are many imposters.
Coming Home; The Magic of the Ordinary.
If achievement and striving are synonymous with youth, perhaps acceptance is the value of maturity. Succinctly put by Tolkien’s Thorin Oakenshield, ‘If more people valued, home, above gold, this world would be a merrier place…’ For those with real wisdom, daily life is the mainstay; the main course of our time spent alive. Peak states come and go but trips to Peru’s jungles or the Black Rock Desert are fleeting and unsubstantial for daily digestion. Instead, these wizened masters look to the art of waking, sleeping and everything in between. The realm of the ordinary. Breathing, light, love, community and making a home; these are all atelic, cyclical activities. They cannot be finished. It is part of their beauty. This is not to say that extraordinary states have no use, far from it. But they must be integrated and this can be extremely uncomfortable.
Aristotle noted a time of being, a middle-ground; the ‘prime of life’ where we exist within the middle of dichotomies. We are neither overly anxious or overzealous; feminine or masculine, expressive or depressed. We are driven by balance and utility. We acknowledge the journey of life and note the destinations with passing grace. This symmetry of being is embodied in the archetype of Anthropos; an individual that is collected, grounded, well-lived and devoid of internal or external compensation. To live like this… well, that is the magic of the ordinary. When we leave this mind state and forever chase peaks, we must know that that we are surely hurting others; those who pick up the pieces and do the laundry. Why not aim to have your feet firmly on the ground, daily, instead of bound to the clouds, once in a blue moon.