Prompt #25:

Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (I’m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NYTimes best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (it’s all been written before, I shouldn’t bother). What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.

(Prompt Author: Patti Digh)

I am not totally following parts of this prompt well, but it seems in part to be talking about going toward our authentic selves and letting our charisma develop from embracing our ordinariness. I am not sure, quite, how Digh is defining “ordinary” here, but I think she might be hinting that it is our “everyday selves.” Anyway, it is too late at night for me to probe that aspect of the question as much as I should.

In fact, I am not going to get around to answering this prompt fully tonight. I will say that I don’t believe in comparing myself to others, have spent years trying to train my mind to view life differently than that, and I get uncomfortable when I sense a person comparing himself to me. Sure, possibly the human instinct is to compare, but whenever I notice myself having such a thought, I try not to sit inside of that mindset very long at all. I don’t think it is healthy for me. I decided in high school that the only person I can compare myself to is myself. I know when I am doing my best, and when I am lacking. Comparing oneself to others leads either to arrogance or to envy, neither of which are healthy or appealing. We are all equally great at being ourselves, and we really don’t need to try to be anything else. I believe that other people can serve as inspiration, but that requires us to see their accomplishments through a lens of appreciation for the beauty of those accomplishments, not a lens of jealousy. Envy is far, far from inspiring; it is a prison of our own making even when we can’t see the bars. What can we really accomplish if we are overcome with such darkness? Least of all, a position of constant comparison with others means that we really cannot work well with anyone else. If we think we can beat someone in value, are we really seeing that person as a whole, authentic, lovely self? Or as just a pawn? If we see someone as a whole person, and if we see ourselves as a whole person, how can we make a valid comparison at all? Comparisons are only possible if we refuse to see the whole beauty of a fellow human being. If we see the whole beauty, then we know that comparisons are pointless because each person is unique.

And that’s as far as I am going for now. Good night!