Pick Up Your Ordinary

842. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

In his book, The Pilgrimage, Paulo Coehlo writes that the path to wisdom can be identified by three things: 1) it must involve agape (love), 2) it must have practical application in your life, 3) it has to be a path that can be followed by anyone. My pilgrimage this winter has brought me face-to-face with the third characteristic.

I’ve many times taught the phrase, “Put down your clever and pick up your ordinary.” This concept comes from the world of improvisation and it reveals the path to full uninhibited expression. What you label in yourself as “ordinary” is actually your most extraordinary and potent gift. You think it is ordinary because it is natural to you. Because it is natural to you, you assume that everyone has it. They don’t. In addition, trying to be clever or smart pulls you out of the moment. It creates a façade. It pulls you away from your extraordinary gift. To put down the need to be clever or right actually allows you to show up. It’s a paradox, to put down your clever and pick up your ordinary is the route to extraordinary fulfillment. It is the route to presence.

The path of the ordinary is a path that can be followed by anyone. To distinguish or attempt to be above the herd is an excellent way to block the flow. It is a remarkably effective strategy for creating inner poverty. This winter I have been summarily stripped of my many devices for distinguishing myself. I have been expert at keeping myself aloof and above it all. I have preached a path of unity while investing in a devoted separation. I isolate myself in a studio, walk like a ghost across a city each day, belong nowhere and refuse to join. And since I desire to walk a path of wisdom I have necessarily been crushed and ground into a fine powder. I have, in the process, crushed others in my confusion, acted poorly and been reintroduced to the ugly side of my nature – the part that makes me ordinary and human. I have been messy and brutal and can no longer be above it all.

I have no clever left to heft. All that remains is basic, essential and very ordinary. And now, because there is no more illusion of “special” or “different,” perhaps I can begin. Perhaps my artistry will find its community because I am no longer attempting to be distinct. Artistry is about joining. And this brings me back to the first characteristic, agape. Love cannot exist in a world of better or worse. Love is never found in the separations; separations preclude agape. Agape must include everyone, no exceptions, even when the exceptions are self-imposed.

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