Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Life Less Ordinary

It's probably the result of growing up with a New Ager for a mom, in a home where it was always assumed that the world was on the brink of a vast spiritual awakening. I've always believed my life would coincide with the turning point in human history; a period of great turmoil and chaos and change, but ultimately, the end of our destructive patterns and the start of a Golden Age (for those who survive the transition). It would be filled with war and plagues and the collapse of civilization as we know it. That all coincided beautifully with the predictions of ecological collapse the scientists talk of, the economic collapse we're now undergoing, the Mayan Calendar, and even pop culture and Hollywood sci-fi. A perfect symphony of logic and truth.

But what if these are all delusions of grandeur? Perhaps these fears are all the result of animal instincts for survival being cleverly played by dreamers and marketers? I was sitting on the bench press machine at gym this evening and I had the most extraordinary of thoughts: that I may in fact lead an ordinary life, in ordinary times. It was the first time I'd even contemplated that option! I pondered the approaching descent into the 2nd half of my twenties and was truly surprised to think of myself growing old and dying, like so many generations before me. No great war of good and evil.

And, as with all thoughts of mortality, I immediately felt two conflicting emotions: disappointment and relief. The first is what I'm going to have to work on: to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and meaning in the every day details of my life.


  1. I'm a touch nihilist in my thinking: Al baby, we are just ordinary people, living in very ordinary times. We're all specs in an infinity of pointlessness but instead of being depressing, that thought for me is so liberating. Questions of meaning and consequence and regret and wishes and good or evil are (mostly) irrelevant to me. Instead I am (mostly) free to pursue pleasure, love, leisure or nothing at all of the whim strikes me so.

    Sure some historian in 3010 will take a grandiose view on the dawning of the information age or herald the emergence of china as a superpower or laud the impact of sharp focus on the environmental issues; but truth is, it all doesn't really matter.

    That said, as with most things in my life, this view is not cast in stone so if you happen to stumble upon the extraordinary and meaning, please send em my way for a Q&A session.

  2. Oh dear Al, now I've got you thinking about death on bench press machines - well, I guess that is understandable - they are quite heavy-going. But I hope all my dying granny talk isn't bringing on these morbid thoughts? But, nothing wrong with finding the magic in every day either. So, where was the magic today? Clearly not in the terrifying flying building sensation... although, it was quite extraordinary.

  3. Yeah, the weights section really is the kind of environment that make you see your life flash before your eyes! I thought the screaming building was definitely something worth relishing :) They're only scary when they're not attached to the ground...