I believe that being ordinary is in fact extraordinary when there is an absence of pretension. One morning as I was contemplating what lies ahead in life for me and my new wife I suddenly realized how our plain reality has something significant to say about humanity itself. I often listen to NPR’s Humankind series as I drive my big rig or as I sit overseeing my student as he or she drives, and this program never fails to touch me. For sure, my life’s path has been quite unusual, certainly not glorious, yet I’m audacious enough to grasp how my simple story is but another melody in the larger symphony of humankind. Yes, I say melody, because it is beautiful for being just what it is, authentic, down-to-earth—real. There is inherent nobility in mankind, and I am not bashful to say that I partake in it, or better yet, I am humble enough to realize that I do. So let me take a moment to share with you my reality.
I have always been a contemplative person, I have always asked why. That I was born into this world, having come from a place I have no memory or even intuition of, that I am destined to die some day, exiting perhaps existence itself or entering onto another plane I cannot know—this fundamental condition of mankind has always been present, right in my face, and I have always chosen to keep it there, never to look away or ignore it as many might. This choice of mine to confront my mortality has always inspired me to make something meaningful or worthwhile out of life’s mystery, or better yet, to embrace my mortality. Hence I have always been in search of MY purposeful life, MY warrior’s glory on the field of eternity.
I have been a dreamer and a loner, longing for my purpose and unstable and isolated in life for it, yet crying out in my profound loneliness for belonging—for a community to belong to, or for a significant other. At first I turned to religion, and tried throughout my young adult years to gain entrance into a Catholic religious community, this being my religious tradition. But I was always turned away. I finally came three years ago to the point of my second choice, to take a wife. For some reason I had always looked down on marriage, esteeming ordinary the man who takes a wife, unbefitting my ambition for extraordinary purpose. But since embracing my wife I have grown to realize that in giving of myself, in committing my life to another, I am finally beginning to engage that very purposeful life I had always desired.
When I decided to get married I decided on principle. I was ready to commit to whomever I found worthy, however soon I found her, and wherever she may be. So, on the internet I met a foreign girl, corresponded with her, visited her on vacation, and got married to Dayanara from the Dominican Republic.
I fell in love with Dayanara because she is folk, and I’ve come to realize that I love folk. Folk to me is the ordinary among humankind. They are not elite and they are not peasant within their respective culture. They strive for livelihood with a sense of responsibility, and they have their moments of sadness about life. This sadness, you see, is the critical thing. The elite are sad against their sense of privilege, the peasant is sad in accordance with his choice, but the person of folk is sad because of the genuine condition of humankind. Yes, life is sad because it is unfair. Dayanara’s sadness was expressed in the words “why does life have to be so tiresome for me and why must I always be alone.” My sadness was expressed in the words “why am I always so isolated and why MUST I always strive.”
But finally, things have changed. Dayanara will no longer have to endure a wearisome life because she now has her husband helper, nor will she be alone anymore; and I am no longer isolated because even as I write these very words I feel in myself a new creature, a union of two, despite the fact that my beloved is not yet with me. If I do strive now, I strive with the lighter effort that comes from the strength of commitment, for I’ve learned that striving for an ordinary other is much nobler than striving for myself, despite the supposed nobility of my cause. Hence although I must struggle against my country’s immigration bureaucracy which continues to hold apart my wife and I for almost a year now, my cause makes me nobler than that of the guru who hates folk and the condition of folk.
I see the light. I now am nobler than the God-loving man who hates his own humanity.
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