Monday, July 18, 2016

To Be Extraordinary

A couple weeks ago the news reported the death of Seaman James Derek Lovelace. Lovelace drowned during Navy Seal training exercises. He was 21. Did you know that since 2012 more Seals have died in training than have died in combat or from combat-related injuries? A sad fact, sadder still because these men were extraordinary.

When I witness individuals doing extraordinary things, I feel really crappy about myself and my decidedly ordinary life. I'm in awe of those who tackle military training, or attempt American Ninja Warrior, or the Spartan races. I am beyond impressed by those who complete Ironman/Woman triathlons. I tip my hat to marathon runners and mountain climbers because there's nothing in me that wants to attempt any of those things. I hear the term "boot camp" at the gym, and I head to the yoga mat. Combine the word "extreme" with anything, and I run in the opposite direction. How is it there are people like Seaman Lovelace in the world and then there are people like me?

And it's not just those who accomplish heroic physical feats. What about hospice nurses like my girl Theresa, and teachers like my friends Cathy, Karen, Mindy, Dave, Dan and Susan? Put me in their shoes and you'd find the dying comforting me, and children running the classroom. And then there are those who make a difference in the world through their selfless acts. Like my friend Dave Powell whose organization Wells for Relief brings water to people in Ghana. Personally, I'd like to bring a dog  park to Media, Pa., and even that seems like too much work (and it's totally selfish since I could really use a dog park nearby).

Hell, even politicians, one or two of them, deserve our applause. Most of us bitch about the state of our country, but how many of us are doing anything to improve it? Current presidential candidates excluded, there are actual American citizens who put their district, state, and/or country first. I can't name any of them, but I'm sure they exist. This is just another category in which I would say, "Not a chance." I'm embarrassed to admit that I would probably fail a test on exactly how our political system works, and that's because I spend my time on the latest movies and best selling books instead of picking up Time magazine.

Wow. This is depressing. The problem with this thinking, and as a result this blog post, is that it stymies us. We're understandably daunted by aiming for extraordinary, convinced we can never achieve it, but I recently was given the advice to "Do one thing different" and that helps, really. Because if you think about it, neither the Navy seal nor the marathon runner, nor the teacher or the politician got out of bed one morning and said "today I'm going to accomplish something extraordinary." They built up to it with a run, or a course of study or, in the case of the politician, a bribe. Baby steps.

I'm not sure what my extraordinary could look like, but today and tomorrow, too, I'm going to do one thing different and see where it takes me. How about you? What would extraordinary mean to you? And what's the one thing you could do differently to get you there?