My summer holiday was unique this year as I didn’t travel across Ireland or go abroad. Instead, I turned off the internet and began to focus on simple things such as going to church, tidying my bedroom, running, and being with my family. I became determined to say “goodbye” to fantasy and the unreal, and to welcome the promptings of an ordinary life. And one day something miraculous happened… I remembered the exact day and date for the first time in ages!
For me, being ordinary means that I don’t intend to be a star in any way. And what is wrong with that?! While eating dinner with my family in the evenings, I began to nurture this desire. As the conversation developed, I used the ‘granny test’: if my granny Una could understand what I was saying, then everyone else could too. I enjoyed talking about the news and craic of the world more than usual, as I wasn’t looking to be the smartest person in the room. Not wanting to stand out in any way relieved me of the usual social pressures I put on myself. I wasn’t pretending to be small; I was just more aware of my place.
Ignatian Spirituality blogger Lisa Kelly found out from her mother’s stay in hospital that the ordinary things of life, when not able to do them, “suddenly become the greatest desires of our hearts.” Personally, I am growing in hunger for meditation and growing in gratitude for my career. What’s more, we can tune into the wonderful ordinary the more we allow our jaws to drop when we see a baby, a rainbow, or when we hear someone say: “I’m sorry.”
I slowly turned away from fantasy as I walked the streets of Dublin on my own. At times, I found myself drawn to look at physically attractive women and I got carried away for a moment or two. However, any fantasy was short-lived as I said to myself: “I don’t know that woman”. Then, I remembered the real connection I have with my girlfriend. I know her intimately and our relationship is far closer than any passing moments. I am a happy man.
Furthermore, it is safe to say that pornography promotes a common fantasy among both children and adults. A 2006 study gives an indication of its popularity as 42.7% of internet users reportedly view it. Thankfully, my own habit is dying off. As we know, it is highly unlikely to have a real relationship with an actor on the screen, but pornography tries to convince us that there is somehow a connection. It may stimulate your mind and body; it may distract you from your pain; but it can seriously damage the ordinary love in your life. It makes us look at others on the street as if we know them, when we clearly don’t.
For those who think ordinary things are boring, let me warn you about FoMO (Fear of Missing Out)! FoMO happens when you fear you are missing out on something better, something more exciting. For example, while on a family holiday, you impulsively turn to Facebook and Instagram to catch up on the party you’re missing. This is not a good way to live because it takes you away from the present moment. A constant state of FoMO leads people to check social media right after they wake up, before they go to bed and during meals (Time Magazine). Avoid the distraction!
So as my holiday came to an end, I turned back on the internet and caught up with various messages and notifications. I found everything a bit fast-paced again, so I took my time. When I returned to work, I was more focused and I was able to maintain my energy throughout the day. In this blog, I practise ordinary living by writing my words with simplicity and love.