I got a comment the other day asking me what was so absolutely terrifying about being ordinary. I am going to answer it.
Sabina asked, “Can you explain why being ordinary is more frightening than, say, being buried alive, or never accomplishing anything useful in your life?”
I have a natural restlessness inside of me that drives me to think this way. People tell me that it will die off slowly as the years pass. “Someday,” they say, “you will be content and happy with what you have.” They say that as you get older you lose the idealism and the drive of your twenties, but I don’t think you “lose” it per se, I think you learn to shut it up. You quiet that voice inside that tells you not to be run of the mill, to break out of the mold and do something worthwhile. It seems to me that accomplishing something useful is far from ordinary…depending on your system of measure I suppose. But the truth is that accomplishment does not come without hard work and inevitable failures along the way, whereas ordinary is easy. We are a people who are too comfortable with taking the easy way, even though it makes them feel empty, so…they learn to shut out that nagging.
Or they just never hear it in the first place.
I am not the latter, for I feel the nagging in the back of my head. It calls to me when I lie awake at night, and it whispers to me as I watch my smoke trail into the night. There has always been this incredibly arrogant belief in my head that I am not ordinary and that I am meant to do something extraordinary. I remember the first time I told anyone that. I was sitting under an expressway bridge in the rain with a drug “friend” having the typical drug induced conversation about life. I told him that I thought I was put here to do something great…he laughed and I can still hear his exact words today:
“Yeah look at you sitting under a fucking bridge in the rain high off your ass…that sure is great, isn’t it?”
He laughed and laughed, clearly not realizing how badly that hurt…or just how right he was. I thought about what I was doing sitting there, completely blocking out my life…stoned senseless and utterly worthless. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but somehow I thought that my aspirations and dreams were just more effort than I was willing to put in. I was perfectly satisfied to sit on my ass and get high under a bridge in the rain with a kid who smelled like he just shit himself.
I was fine with being ordinary…worthless…robotic.
There is a general restlessness among our population which many have learned to tune out or use as a means to success and prosperity, even though that only leads to further restlessness (read Democracy in America, I’m not writing another research paper about it here). I think learning to suppress that restlessness is essentially coasting to the bottom. If everyone was content to live ordinary and boring lives there would be no inventors, no scientists, no leaders…no, we would just be a bunch of fucking slobs, sitting on our couches watching Jerry Springer and reaching for another KFC drumstick as we ash our menthol cigarettes into the empty Milwaukee’s Best Ice can on the floor.
So, in my mind being ordinary is exactly the same as being buried alive. Being ordinary is the same as never accomplishing anything useful in my life. It is essentially me spitting in the face of the family who gave me the potential that I know I have. It is the loss of all will, it tricks you in with the promises of being “content” and “happy,” but only leaves you a shell of your former self.
Ordinary is failure. Ordinary is surrender. Ordinary is not trying. Ordinary is giving in. Ordinary is giving up. Ordinary will take you nowhere and it will leave you empty and unfulfilled.
Ordinary is the muzzle keeping you from singing. Ordinary is shackles the keeping you from freedom. Ordinary is the blinder keeping you from the light. Ordinary is the whisper in your ear telling you to be like everyone else.
Ordinary like everyone; a curse, a sickness, a rotting hollow feeling.
Something to which I will not submit.