Yesterday in church one of our speakers talked about someone being extraordinary. He used the term repeatedly. Each time that he said it, a nonsensical bell kept dinging in my head, making the term sound more and more odd when I thought about it. It reminded me of that time when I was five years old and I got this thought in my head that noses were strange things. I pondered, as any five-year-old might, how odd it is that we have these things poking out of the middle of our faces, with holes in them. I spent a good week staring at people’s faces, trying to imagine them without their noses. One must use kindergarten logic when analyzing this behavior.
So yesterday, sitting in the choir seats at church, I finally leaned over to my friend and whispered that I thought the word “extraordinary” was an odd word. She sat for half a minute, looking up toward the right quadrant of her brain, and then leaned back over toward me and whispered, “How so?”
“Wouldn’t you think that if someone was extra ordinary that they would be super-duper average? Like, extra ordinary, not just plain old ordinary?”
She paused a while, and we listened to more of his talk, then she leaned over and said “I think you’re right.”
I used to think I was personally called to be a missionary for diversity in a pretty Wonder Bread white toast community. And I think I have succeeded somewhat in that, as my garage does not look neat and tidy like my neighbors’ garages do, and I don’t go to the gym, and the lights are still burning through our kitchen windows into the late-late night, when everyone else except for my sisters’ are long dark. I am chubby but jolly, and I waddle when I walk. This keeps the angle of our world turning as it should, slightly off center.
When I get to feeling a little above average in some things, I am blessed to be reminded by someone or other, or something or other, that I am pretty much ordinary. For instance, a few years ago my friend Glen Leonard wrote a play commemorating the birthday of the prophet Joseph Smith. He asked if I would write songs for it, which I did. Glen was a historian for the LDS church and has published many books, and I was honored to work with him. He was also our stake president. We performed the play for our stake. Afterward a fellow from the stake, a member of the high council, came up and asked if I had written the songs. I answered yes, to which he replied. “They were quite nice. In fact, I think they were even above average.”
“Why, thank you.” I said. Mom always told me to just smile and say thank you when someone pays you a compliment.
So if you ever hear me saying that I think I am extraordinary, I hope you understand that I am just that…extra-super-duper-run-of-the-mill-ordinary.
Years ago, when we had just moved to Farmington from Pittsburgh, I was out in the lobby of the church during Sacrament meeting, trying to keep my wiggling toddler from destroying the reverence in the chapel. I got to talking to Bernice Smith, an old Farmington treasure who lives down on Main Street. We had moved into Somerset Farm, those nice new houses on the hill, and I guess there was a little eyebrow raising from the old timers at this fresh new crop of suburbanites coming into Farmington. As the Sacrament ended and I was gathering up my little squirmy worm to go back in with the rest of the family, I told Bernice how great it was to chat with her. She said to me, “You’re just an old dirt farmer, aren’t you?” Then she gave me a hug. A big old dirt farmer to dirt farmer hug!
Best compliment I ever got.
I like being ordinary. I want there to be splatterings on my kitchen stove. I want the grass to be worn down under the swings in our yard. I want to have dirt under my fingernails, and a fallen-over pile of pillows stacked in the corner of my bedroom for tired grandchildren. And the broken gate that allows people to pass from our side of the neighborhood to the other side of the neighborhood? It can remain broken, and the grass through it can be worn down, too. I will never be a spit-!shine kind of gal, even though now and then I try to fake that I can be. Truth is, I am not only just plain ordinary…I am extraordinary. Extra-ordinarily extra ordinary.