Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ordinary Hero

The question was asked and the room fell silent: "Does anyone ever feel they've lived up to their potential?" It was a loaded question, not only because it was asked in a group of persons struggling with vocation, but also because the word "potential" is elusive in its definition. What does "potential" mean in a world that views achievement as athletic prowess, celebrity status, or economic success? If the exceptional is the guide for the achievement of one's potential, how will those of us who live somewhere between the average and the ordinary ever feel we've arrived?
The inherent routine and mundane tasks that fill our days contribute to the struggle to understand our "potential." How can one possibly feel substantial when one's day-in, day-out existence is filled with the tedium of housework, paying bills, pulling weeds, and running endless errands? These tasks are not celebrated, or noticed. They are the daily details that make up our routine. Indeed for artists and bus drivers, homemakers and neurosurgeons, astronauts and cashiers our days are filled with repetitive motion, even if we do have moments of great challenge or extraordinary success. It is no wonder then, with our societal standards and our routine-filled lives that we wonder about our potential. Indeed, does much of what we do even matter when it feels so ordinary? Does the "ordinary" contribute to our sense of meeting our potential, or does its predominance in our lives simply serve as a perpetual reminder of a failure to thrive?

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