This post inspired by my friend Claire Bellis’s beautiful tribute to her extraordinary, ordinary Nana Delia, who was born 100 years ago this weekend.
“During her long life (she died in 2012) she experienced such changes I’m sure no one living in the early C20th could have imagined; but at the heart of everything my Nana witnessed, she remained an extraordinary, ordinary woman.”
And that got me thinking about how extraordinary is most visible in the ordinary, the everyday.
IKEA has a strapline on its ads: “The Wonderful Everyday”. It’s marketing, yes, but like the best marketing, it is also true.
The beauty in the banal is a recurring theme in the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh.
Three quick examples. In “Epic”, he recalled the happenings in Monaghan when the world was shifting on its axis in Munich, and reminded himself that Homer “made the Iliad from such / A local row”. In “Canal Bank Walk”, he does “The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal, Grow with nature again as before I grew.” And in “Advent”, he writes about “the spirit-shocking Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill”.
When we look closely, the ordinary is utterly extraordinary. A spider’s web on a frosty morning. The blur of the stars in the Milky Way on a clear night. The redwings and fieldfares and Canada geese and Whooper swans who cross oceans from colder parts for the temperate winters in Ireland, the Atlantic salmon who leaves Ireland for the wide ocean before returning, somehow, to its river of origin to spawn and start the life cycle all over again.
All of it and more happening all around us when we stop and breathe and look.
In an age when so much is digital and online and ephemeral and wispy, all around us are tangible things, things we can see and feel and sense and touch and which reconnect us to our spirit and our self.
The ordinary is truly extraordinary, when we choose to see it that way.
(Thanks for the inspiration, Claire.)