Appreciate the Ordinary

Cara - Columbus, Ohio
Entered on May 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Now I’m sure you have all heard the expression “Stop and smell the roses”. This cliché informs people that they should stop and appreciate the beauty in life. But life should not always be about appreciating amazing beauty. I believe we should also learn to value the everyday. After all, the word extraordinary simply means the EXTRA ordinary; thus, if something is extra ordinary it is even more ordinary than usual. Instead of stopping and smelling the roses, maybe we should stop and enjoy the beauty of plain printer paper or blue jeans. Society tends to disregard the everyday because it is not interesting, however, that does not mean it is unimportant.

I first realized this problem of ignoring the everyday a few weekends ago when I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to New York. A monotone voice came over the intercom to announce that the current threat level was orange, and that we should report any suspicious behavior to a TSA official. I had heard this announcement countless times before, and did not even think twice about it. A few minutes later, however, the same voice came over the intercom announcing that “Grandma Stanton’s children should meet her at the baggage claim”. People around me chuckled at this unusual announcement, and paid it more notice than the fact that the current threat level was at orange. In this case, the more important, but less attention grabbing announcement was simply ignored; whereas, the more unusual and funnier announcement was at least acknowledged.

Once I was in New York I noticed the same problem. My cousin, a native New Yorker, and I were taking the subway into the city. I happened to look out the window of where we were sitting and noticed, what looked to me, like a war zone. Suddenly, I realized that we were passing through ground zero. No one else on the subway even bothered to look up as I starred in horror at the wreckage before me. I nudged my cousin to make sure my suspicion was correct, and he just chuckled at my ignorance and nodded. I was completely horrified; this was the site at which hundreds of thousands of people perished, and so soon people had already forgotten. People were more aware of the obnoxious baby crying in the background than the more significant tragedy surrounding them.

To airport regulars, warnings about our current threat level are simply annoying; to most New Yorkers, passing through ground zero on the subway does not even merit a second glance. But in reality, I believe these events are extremely important. However, because they are the norm to most people, they lose their significance; sometimes it takes an outsider to realize how much the rest of society is missing. Although the unusual is more interesting, it is sometimes in not as important as the everyday. As responsible human beings, I believe we must awaken ourselves to the ordinary, and not simply pass us by. After all, ordinary events make up the majority of our lives, so we might as well appreciate them.