Tuesday, October 16, 2012

An Ordinary Day

or•di•nar•y, adj.
1. Commonly encountered; usual. Synonym: common
2. Of no exceptional ability, degree, or quality; average; Of inferior quality; second-rate.
While Ash and I were in Chicago, I noticed several large, colorful banners on a building across the street from Millennium Park. They all said “I WANT TO BE ORDINARY.”

Forgive the quality. It was taken with an iPhone from across the street.

My initial thought was, “Why would I want to be ordinary?” The whole point of pursuing my dreams, helping others, and thinking positively is not to be ordinary. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not to gain acclaim or recognition but it is to live a life that leaves a positive impact on the people I love. I don’t want a headstone when I die but if I did, I wouldn’t want it to say, “Here lies Nicole. She was ordinary.” I mean, just look at the definition! Second-rate? No thank you.

I walked away from the signs and into the park to see Cloud Gate/The Bean but I was still thinking about why I had such an adverse reaction to the phrase. Something strange happened. Thinking through it actually changed my mind a bit.

Sometimes, ordinary isn’t ordinary. Sometimes, it’s an awesome alternative. So much has gone on in my life this year health wise. To be ordinary (read: healthy) honestly doesn’t seem bad at all. In fact, it would be a blessing. The signs suddenly took on new meaning for me (and made me want one of the banners for my house).

Having accepted that the big banners weren’t so off base after all, I went to Google for the meaning behind the “I AM ORDINARY” project. Industry of the Ordinary wasn’t hard to find. Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson are the artists/educators behind the project. Their mission is:

“Through sculpture, text, photography, video, sound and performance Industry of the Ordinary are dedicated to an exploration and celebration of the customary, the everyday, and the usual. Their emphasis is on challenging pejorative notions of the ordinary and, in doing so, moving beyond the quotidian.”

The organization has been around since 2003. It started with 75 performers dropping 163 pounds (the weight of an average American adult at the time) in Daley Plaza in Chicago and they’ve been celebrating the ordinary through various projects ever since. Pretty cool.

In any event, it made me re-evaluate my perception of the word and realize that sometimes, ordinary isn’t so bad after all.

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