This morning, during a brief meditation, i explored this some more and realized that there was more underneath (isn’t there always?). I remembered that i had noticed thoughts like “i don’t have any special talents” while dancing and watching others dance or play instruments in skillful ways. This morning, I uncovered that i wanted to be extra-ordinary like them, be able to touch other people’s lives as they do! And that leads straight back to a belief that formed during my childhood: People who have extra-ordinary talents are admired (as a kid, i admired opera singers) and admiration = love. If we’re just ordinary, we don’t deserve love, this thought seems to suggest – leading to Brené Brown’s definition of shame: Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are not worthy of love and belonging (my memorized version of her definition).
The quest for extra-ordinariness is part of our culture (23): “I see the cultural messaging everywhere that says that an ordinary life is a meaningless life.” So only if we are extra-ordinary, do something extra-ordinary, we lead a meaningful life.
At the dance event, when i allowed myself to just enjoy the dancing and the music, i was enjoying myself. An ordinary thing to do that brought me joy. By chasing after the extra-ordinary, we miss out on all the joy of the ordinary moments. On my way home, i thought about what i would have to do to dance as well as these women. Well, i would have to practice way more. I could do that, though i probably wouldn’t be enjoying it that much. So, i’d rather remain an ordinary dancer and enjoy other things…
There is something else here, though: Extra-ordinariness = admiration = love. That equation seems to underlie matrimania, especially for women. I’ve seen this in action recently with all the hoopla around several engagements. People have a moment of extra-ordinariness when they get attention from others celebrating their engagement (contrast that with the little celebration i experienced for my 5-year self-commitment anniversary!). And most people assume that marriage is the ultimate reflection of love, downplaying and ignoring are ways of expressing our love for other people. Maybe if we would let our love flow to our friends and family, we wouldn’t feel so compelled to pursue the extra-ordinary and would be able to relish the meaning in ordinary moments.