through the viewfinder: your (extra)ordinary life

When I called my very short post this past Friday, "returning to (extra)ordinary," I added the "(extra)" sort of as a flippant afterthought -- one that stayed with me for the rest of the day.

I had been running around trying to find a subject for a photograph -- any subject.  I was walking around our neighbourhood, our back yard, and our house.  I was thinking to myself, that's it.  I've run out of things to shoot.  There is NOTHING IN MY LIFE WORTH CAPTURING WITH THIS CAMERA.  And as I was perfecting the ideal woe-is-me attitude, my thoughts turned to an interview I'd seen recently of Michelle Obama. 

I'd joined the interview in the middle of it, and it appeared to be about how Mrs. Obama was going to maintain an "ordinary" life for her children, now that they had moved into the White House.  At one point, she said, "I understand that we'll make some sacrifices now that Barack is President.  But you know what?  We'll get to eat dinner together as a family every night now.  We haven't been able to do that in over a year."

On listening to this, many thoughts came to mind; however, the prevailing one was, yeah, that might be true, but your "ordinary" family dinners include the President of the United States as a regular attendee.  But then I realized that what appeared very extraordinary to me, on some large level was very, very ordinary for Mrs. Obama.

I realized that the same was true of the lives of so many people I follow on the internet.  I look at the images uploaded by my friend Irene, and think with awe, how extraordinary that she lives her everyday life in Paris.  I eagerly comb through all the posts of Smitten Kitchen, a recent new addiction, and think how extraordinary that this couple have afforded themselves a life where they create these amazing dishes -- together! -- and then get to photograph and write about them.  I check out the stories told by my beautiful friend Hula about her life in Portland with her equally-fabulous illustrator husband and their family, and think how extraordinary that their children get to grow up surrounded by so much art, and raised by such artistic parents.  I even read Tash's site and marvel how extraordinary that she wakes up every morning in the Caribbean -- even though I had the same life a little less than 2 years ago, myself!

The truth is that each of our very ordinary, everyday lives is, on some level, extraordinary -- we are usually just too close to the forest to see the trees.  I mean, when I stop to think about it, even though I live a relatively simple, ordinary life in Houston, Texas, how extraordinary that I get to spend my days doing what I love, and I get to be a member of this tiny, very close-knit family.  It turns out I'm quite lucky!

How about you?  Even given your ordinary, everyday life, think about it:  what makes your life extraordinary?

Song: Thank U, by Alanis Morissette

Karen Walrond22 Comments