A Tricky Word: Extraordinary

library ceiling

We’re going to be extraordinary

Seven years ago I sat in a college theater watching a friends’ production of Wendy Wasserstein’s Uncommon Women and Others and this line, like a well aimed arrow, got lodged in my heart.

I carried around the burden of this drive to be extraordinary like a sick woman bears a prognosis that she has six months to live.

Contentment scared me because I equated it with settling for my still imperfect life. The experience of the ins and outs of daily existence made me feel like I was stuck in one big waiting room praying I would soon be released into the next stretch of life where things really counted.

Always on the run from the mundane, I chased after at ever elusive hopes that magic and transformation would find me even as I raced around in a panic. There was no chance that I could ever find peace in meditation – all about embracing the present moment – because I was convinced that the present moment was just a big, fat, ugly reminder of all that I had failed to do.

It was a well meaning sort of madness, since all I really wanted was to lead a “worthwhile life,” but it was a destructive madness all the same. Essentially, I was convinced that unless I totally revised my uninspired every day life, I would end up a dissatisfied fifty year old, regretting my lost youth and unused potential.

Then one day I realized I was comfortable in my own skin.

Ok, it’s not a complete transformation, I definitely admit. I still get cranky about work sometimes and I fret that I will not see my name on the spine of a book by age thirty and I panic that there are not enough hours in the day to be a writer and healer and a wife and a professional and someone who actually SLEEPS, but I’ve stopped rushing to some undefined place of “achievement.” I know this feeling has been creeping up slowly, but I feel like I just woke up a few days ago and realized: I AM leading a worthwhile life.

Learning that to heal someone is to facilitate her awakening definitely lead to this epiphany. That definition finally lead me to accept what we have heard so many times – to change the world, help bring change to one other person.

The other thing that made me realize I actually can be the change I wish to see without changing everything was watching my teacher and my healer in action. These women may get to be well known someday, but for now, they are effecting amazing transformations in the worlds they directly touch each day. They wish to get their ability to heal and their message of possibility out there, but they are not driven by a need for recognition or because they believe that what they have is not enough.

I am still striving to make what improvements I can, but I think I am finally doing it from a place of fullness rather than a place of fear that I might not be enough. It seems this is the only way to really reap what we sow. Who knew that the best way to move forward was not to project yourself into an always distant future but to be happy standing still for a moment?


6 thoughts on “A Tricky Word: Extraordinary

  1. blisschick December 11, 2008 / 11:42 pm

    Virginia Woolf was 33 when she published The Voyage Out…and her half brother did the publishing! So where we get the idea that our 20’s are when we should achieve giant things is beyond me. When I teach “older” writers, I remind them they have more to write about.

    I am really curious about this healing that you’re learning about…what “school of thought” are you studying? 🙂

  2. brandi December 12, 2008 / 10:08 am

    I keep coming back to this and feeling like there is so much to say and not quite knowing how to say it.

    there is so much of this post that strikes a chord with me, that my soul says YES to. I have realized how thinking I was a failure unless I was a rockstar (hypothetically) dismisses the very real way my life shapes and connects and interacts with others. It’s really a way to not live your life isn’t it?? To decide that unless it’s ‘x’, you don’t really have to acknowledge it as important.

    what a powerful post.

  3. feministwife December 12, 2008 / 1:21 pm

    This is a wonderful personal and open-hearted post. Loved it and it resonated strongly with me as well. How interesting that when we are in this role of providing grounding and balance to those around us, we in turn become more grounded and balanced. Its like we can be stronger for other people than we can for ourselves sometimes – but this often has the great benefit of strengthening our own self-awareness and contentment.

    I know I will continue to re-read this post to be sure and soak in all the juicy parts – thank you.

  4. Quiet December 12, 2008 / 3:44 pm

    Beautiful post!

    From my own experience, restlessness, uncertainty. striving for achievement are simply part of life.

    What I do know is that it is important to think of others, to be kind and to love with all one’s heart (if we can). For various reasons some can’t do these things, and that is part of their journey.

    I sense that you do give a lot to others. This blog is an example of that! I love reading it.

    One last thing, epiphanies can come at any time of life, even in the late afternoon. 🙂

  5. Lisa December 14, 2008 / 8:48 pm

    A most wonderful, insightful post!

    Indeed, I have spent the past 15 months working hard to heal and save my own life. There is no higher calling for me at this time. I know the work I do on myself – BEing myself – putting my authentic self – just as I am – questions, messiness and all – all of this is offering for every sentient being.

    And, amazingly enough, a tremendous awakening has occurred as a result!

    Thank you for your words of wisdom and validation.

  6. girlwhocriedepiphany December 15, 2008 / 7:38 am

    Dear Bliss, So funny you should say that. I never realized Woolfe was published at that age. Even in my most non-Christian days the age of 33 always had amazing significance for me. I am really excited to turn that age myself.
    Oh, and the brat in me says “but I don’t HAVE a brother!” 🙂
    The healing work I am doing (in super brief, more later) is really pretty eclectic. It is rooted in my teacher’s initial training in Health Kinesiology (muscle testing, increasing tolerance to substances and ideas that disturb the body’s energy). But it is also much broader than that – teaching us to ask the body through muscle testing what the person needs and getting creative with finding the tools to help (sounds, stones, supplements, direct energy work, guided meditation). I am barely doing it justice…

    Dear Brandi, YES! I always thought I had to be Carolyn Myss or Tori Amos to have fulfilled all of the potential I know is boiling inside of me. It’s kind of crazy to realize that I just had to be The Girl Who Cried Epiphany…

    Dear FeminstWife,
    Welcome! You are so right about sometimes being able to be stronger for others than for ourselves. Sometimes I worry I cannot practice what I preach when I try to guide people to peace I am not experiencing at the moment, but I don’t think much is gained by being so hard on myself. I know there is a difference between knowing and living one’s wisdom, but sometimes describing strength is enough to conjure it in ourselves once again.

    Dear Lisa, What a noble and necessary path, “trying to save your own life.” I love you honesty about this calling. So few of us have the language for this deep soul work that you are engaged in. Thank you for talking about it and giving us access to the way the work on the self really is for “every sentient being.”

    Thanks and blessings,

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