I’m going to be unabashedly honest right now. Sometimes I imagine what a life of ‘greatness’ would be like.
I’ll picture myself as a philanthropist, the founder of a great company, helping to save the Amazon rainforest from destruction.
Or a professional athlete taking my body to the limits, competing in the Olympics. A celebrity on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (why not?) busting some saucy moves on a glitter ball dance floor.
And of course a respected writer, providing readers with escapism from the everyday
Please tell me I’m not the only one?
Don’t we all, even just occasionally, dare to dream of a life better than average?
But yes, guilt swiftly follows and a personal assessment of my situation helps me rationalise my existence.
While my life may not be as glamorous, over-stated and highly acclaimed as these day-dreams, it is pleasant, safe and by most reasonable accounts, devoid of too much drama.
This is a very good thing! But seeing as I’m being honest, it all feels a little (dare I say it) ‘average’.
It is also of course a wonderful and loving and happy and full, very full life. So absolutely Noooooo complaints. Totally grateful here!
BUT, when we are so easily exposed and perhaps seduced by stories of those living the extra-ordinary life, the sensational, the exceptional, the rags-to-riches and the empowering, it can leave our semi-uneventful lives feeling a little…..well, less.
Maybe I’ve just been viewing too many TED talks lately? Possibly need to lay off the Olympics coverage too?
Nothing ‘average’ about it
Firstly, I’ll put to bed the argument I can hear rustling it’s way to me right now. ‘We all have unique, individual, special lives, so how can a life be average?’
And it’s a valid point. I stand on solid ground agreeing with. Yup, no one has had the same experiences, family, friends etc as you.
But for the purposes of this philosophical argument, I’m wondering how we can see value in our everyday, ‘average’ life?
How can we feel (especially if we aren’t famous or well-known or recognised by others) ‘great’, satisfied or fulfiled with our lot, amongst the dirt of the everyday?
I think at some level we all want to DO many things with our lives, some ‘great’ things even, yet the effort involved in simply running the day-to-day errands of life which are so quick to hold us down, can stifle our plans for creativity, dampen our spirited sense of adventure and deny us spontaneity for the outlandish.
“Live a life less ordinary” Benedict Cumberbatch
So where does that leave us?
I could offer up a list of ways I reckon we can satisfy our cravings for greatness in the everyday. Something like this:
- Take risks: see the world as a smorgasbord of opportunities on offer each day, waiting to be picked, played with. Throw caution to the wind a bit
- Make sacrifices: know that with all things great, sacrifice is inevitably required so shoulder this willingly
- Ask questions: it’s normal, right and good. Be open to new ideas, new people, new places, new experiences etc
- Read: it’s a wonder! Reading is a form of escapism at the very least, but its true power lies in its ability to fill our minds with knowledge, inspiration and the unreal.
But, It seems a bit cliché, a little cheesy and perhaps even condescending.
So I’m going to be frank….. again. I reckon it’s ok to want to be more, to do more and achieve ‘greatness’ on some level. It’s this pursuit for the extra-ordinary that will undoubtedly mean our lives are richer, simply for taking up the challenge.
“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” Seneca
The reality is that even for those who are ‘great’, the everyday mundane still exists. Olympic athletes still have to pay bills, philanthropists still have to deal with pressures and stress, acclaimed novelists still have to wash up the breakfast dishes.
So really, it’s not about being ‘great’ it’s about DOING ‘great’ that makes all of our lives more than average.
Doing ‘great’ I think means making sure that we funnel our energies into an area we are passionate about, are willing to work hard at and keep aspiring to, in spite of the everyday mundane.
It’s no doubt also about doing ‘great’ for others. Giving something of ourselves (hopefully the best bits) to those around us for the ‘greater good’ and in turn feeling part of something more than just ourselves.
So, in order to satisfy my cravings for a life of ‘greatness’, I’m going to keep on practicing my dance steps, pondering my next novel and making a mental list of ways to save the Amazon, while washing up the dishes and cleaning the toilet.
If nothing else, it makes the mundane seem a little more meaningful.