What does it take for something to be ordinary? How does something you encounter in life begin as strange or unusual, become all at once familiar? So much so, that you give it a common value that does not stand out? The answer to this lies in the question itself: it is the process of familiarity - with people, with topics, with objects- that changes the relationship between you and that thing. Nothing just suddenly becomes familiar, it takes time! For example, let’s take your father, or any parent bedsides your birth mother. From before birth, you are deeply connected to your mother on a hormonal level that just isn’t there with your dad (he didn’t carry or nurse you, presumably), and that comes through in the early months of fatherhood. Sometimes much longer.
As a dad becomes readily familiar with his baby, that baby in turn recognizes his dad, and a bond grows. Love grows, becoming so core and recognizable in the lives of both people that it can seem as if it was there from the beginning.
Like parenthood, our lives are a series of trials of becoming familiar with the things that move us. Our most basic skills values, goals, even our language, are nothing but lifelong trials to become ‘ordinary’ amongst them. We want ourselves to be made up of these many different functional, natural seeming parts. We learn our first (and any subsequent) language to socialize with other humans. The first time we push ourselves to work for more money, study to get better grades, and practice our daily routines to be more efficient, we are trying to make our relationships with these things intensely, fundamentally ordinary.
Once we have become ordinary, we can blend in well with our surroundings. It’s really a survival skill -adaptation- that lets us subconsciously recognize the value in being recognizable with different traits and groups. He/she who stands out gets tapped out, for better or worse, but more on this later.
Adaptation is a good thing in the modern business world too. It teaches us that having familiarity with our jobs is critical to a good reputation. But what happens when we want something more? What if we, being humans after all, decide to be ambitious? Craving a lifestyle other than our own is something as old as civilization. “He’s got what I want.” More land, more cows, more attractive spouse, bigger house; whatever it is.
That person -who wants what the other guy has- needs something to get ahead. In english, unsurprisingly, we call this thing the ambitious human needs, is a desire to be extraordinary. The extraordinary person had done something a little peculiar in dedicating themselves to being even more qualifiable in certain categories. In this chase for the ‘extra’, we can find the root of all our desires. No matter what the fiery object of ambition in your own mind looks like, you chase it. Because it’s your extra. It is, right now, the thing you want to be remembered as being closely related with.
I first started writing about the adventures of others shortly after I realized, no one else is. As I broaden my own horizons, reaching at different things I want to make ordinary, every-day parts of my life, I periodically encounter some people of the highest caliber. People who are motivated to be more than they are now, and willing to work to the bone to get there. It was beginning this odyssey, trail marked by friendships new and old, that gave me my first glimpse of extraordinary purpose in my own life. I want nothing more than to inspire others to pursue wild, extraordinary versions of life that allow them to become familiar with the dramatically rich possibilities of what we all desire for ourselves. The Real Jungle Humans project is my first manifestation of this goal: bringing together people actively in the process of becoming extraordinary, to tell their stories that first moved me to ask more of my own life. This is a project I believe can help improve the quality in a lot of lives, and the insights each of these young professionals provide are valuable components to an extraordinary existence. I invite you to explore what each of their contributions might add to your personal contemplation of what you wish to make extraordinary.