The Case for an Ordinary Life

The Case for an Ordinary Life

When my grandfather died six years ago, my dad gave the eulogy at his funeral. In a beautiful address, he shared details of Pop’s life – his upbringing, his faith and his family. Some of it I’d heard before but much of it was new to me.

My Dad then shared something with the friends and family gathered in the church. He said there was no fanfare about his Dad, no drama, no huge success story and no enormous wealth. Instead, he was a man who held his family close, loved a good story, and believed in the benefit of hard work. He was devoted to his wife and together they lived a life of goodness, simplicity, passion and faith. They were surrounded by friends who loved them, family who cherished them and a community who supported them.

“Dad lived an ordinary life. But he lived it in an extraordinary way.”

He had lived an ordinary life – family, work, friends – these were the cornerstones. But he was content. He was happy. He was kind. He was supportive. He was loving. He valued the simple things in life. And he was loved.

 

Ordinary is Not Boring or Weak.

We are so often told to go big, be bold, live larger, dream higher, be extraordinary… And that to be anything else is to be selling ourselves short.

But amidst the noise of advertising telling us we can break free of ordinariness if only we, “Buy that dress! Have that house! Take that holiday! there is an argument for an ordinary life. A life of deep relationships and love, of giving to others, to your community. A life where you have the time and the energy to be fully present in the lives of your partner, your kids, your friends, your work.

There is value in a life lived quietly, full of contentment, love, play, friends and family.

 

But What About Dreams? Goals? Aspirations?

Having dreams and goals – even extraordinary ones – isn’t counter to living an ordinary life.

Dreams are wonderful. Sparky and I dream of travelling with our kids, introducing them to the world, experiencing new people and places.

But before we can find happiness in living those dreams, we need to recognise that life is ordinary and to find happiness in that.

If you can’t find joy and contentment in your day-to-day, what makes you think you will be any happier living in the South of France? Or once you’ve run that marathon?

The day-to-day is just that – daily rhythms of work, family, friends, love, responsibility. And instead of constantly battling the ordinariness of those things, we can accept them and find happiness and contentment and joy in them. Because it is enough.

When we are content in our ordinary life, we free up so much energy to embrace opportunity, to be idle and to dream. And that’s when extraordinary things can happen – if you want them to.

What ordinary thing are you thankful for today? Let us know in the comments below – hell, shout it from the rooftops! Because it is enough.

 

21 Responses to The Case for an Ordinary Life

  1. Hi. I just stumbled upon your blog, but I think it was not by chance. This is exactly what I needed to read today. After running my own business for many years and dreaming big, I chose an ordinary life two years ago to let go and be home, with my kids. It has been such a process in coming to terms with this decision while watching so many of my friends living such huge lives. This is my year of simplicity, of embracing what my life is, making bread, picking kids up from school, having a coffee with a friend and embracing the value of it all. I love what you had to say here, it is the first validation that I have read for this life I have chosen that sincerely speaks to where I am right now, so thank you. Beautifully written.

    • Catherine, your story is on I can completely relate to. I closed a business down when I was pregnant with our second, and chose to live a simpler life. I felt like a failure for a long while, but eventually discovered – as you are discovering now – that there is so much value in a life of quiet.

      Well done to you for making that shift, and I’m glad you found us here! xx

  2. There are so many ordinary things I’m thankful for today. My cup of tea this morning. My car starting when I turned the key. A stress-free morning before we got out the door. The furnace turning on.

    I had a grandpa much like yours. He was a butcher. He lived with his wife and children and mother-in-law for most of his adult life. He liked to golf and bowl. He was quiet. At his funeral, people stood in the aisles because the seats were all taken. In the procession to the cemetery, I looked out the back window of our car and the row of headlights stretched beyond my sight. I realized that day that one ordinary person can touch more lives than he or she will probably ever know. He was a quiet, simple, decent man. Maybe that is extraordinary in this world.

  3. Thanks for this. Today I took a walk with my dog. The temps had risen to the 40s and there was blue sky and sunshine. Very simple things to be happy about and thankful for :)

  4. This was wonderful. I was just thinking yesterday that I was meant to do more than this (motherhood), but maybe I am not and that is okay.

    P.S. I love the name of your blog.

  5. This evening I stood under an Australian summer sky, watching the fruit bats fly to their evening roosts, feeling the cool night breeze on my face…. feeling grateful and at peace. It was enough.
    Your blog says it all. Thank you. You are making a difference. xoxo

  6. Loved this article, Brooke. My life is pretty ordinary but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes I feel guilty for not having bigger goals. But I feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

  7. I like a lot what you wrote ! And it’s so strange that we have to struggle now to live an ordinary life ! That’is just what I want to do, where I live… in South of France !

  8. I found your website from 365Less and this email about ordinary really means something to me. I have a liver transplant (16 years on Mar 2) and some kidney disease and was quite ill last fall. Two hospitalizations totaling 14 days. I mentioned to the nurse that I would just like my ordinary day back. That there was something to be said for getting up and going to work, coming home, making dinner, reading for a while and going to bed and starting over the next day. Being sick for an extended period of time is wearing and you begin to feel like you will never recover. Reading this note about ordinary really makes me appreciate my regular, ordinary life and not need fireworks going off and lots of excitement. Ordinary – Very good!

  9. Thank you so much for this article, I had one f those days, when I literally felt like moving to the french country side – so much so I even googled it. Your article provided the shift in perspective I really needed. It is true, the hotel chic bathroom, fancy holidays, and fast track life does not make up for everyday loving relationships with spouses, children, family and friends. At the end of the day it is the ordinary days that make up most of our lives. I just want to give thanks for the ordinary days , ordinary chaos and peacefully moments.

  10. Just came across your blog and this posting. Loved it! I’m 60+ years old, work full-time (out of necessity) and am in the process of simplifying my life as I prepare for retirement in a few years. I remember at one time in my life criticizing and not understanding my ex-husband and in-laws lifestyles until now, many years later coming to understanding what it was really all about. I wish I’d been wiser then though at the time I was seeking something that wasn’t really about my core self but was instead, about chasing and trying to prove myself to my shadow selves. Better now than never to learn the lessons of living a simpler and more ordinary life than what I used to think was the “right” way to live. I’m glad I found your posting. It touched a spot in my heart.

  11. Thank you for this, Brooke. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I gave p a lucrative and prestigious career to travel full-time and now to be at home with my son. Most days I feel confident in this decision, but there are days that something gets in my head and makes me feel like I could be doing something more prestigious. It’s a yucky feeling since I made the decision knowing that the prestige did not satisfy – and then I read something like this that puts it all back into perspective. Thank you for your words.

  12. I can not help feeling that those people seeking adventure are running away from something. If you embrace the ordinary, I feel you are less likely to get bored.
    As for myself, I am retired and live alone and retired and write some science fiction and new age books. To me writing is interesting, and although somewhat difficult, is still enjoyable. I do not consider my writing extraordinary, but how many people get round to writing books?

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