My ordinary, your ordinary

In life, there is something that I call as my ‘ordinary’ life. And so do you. For you, there is an aspect of your life that you see it as ordinary. As routine. As the usual. As what you expect to do and continue to do as part of what you have done and have been doing.

Yet, my ordinary can be extraordinary to you. And likewise, your ordinary can be extraordinary to me. My order of things can be seen as out of order for you, and your order of things can be a disorder for me. Both are ordinary, yet they are equally extraordinary.

That is when your life and my life intersect. When my writing intersects with your reading. When your point of view intersects with my own. We found resonance in some, and dissonance in others.

But this intersection lies on a slippery hill. Extraordinary does not mean better. Nor does it mean worse. At the very simple form, it’s just different. Better or worse—if we are to talk about it at all—is an image that appears from our lens of interest of that difference.

Seekers of knowledge are those who place themselves within this intersection. Their task is to understand the extraordinary as ordinary, and to understand the ordinary as extraordinary. Of course, it is not easy to be in this position. If we are to be placed here, we will often find ourselves confused, even alienated. Confused as we may be, it becomes irresistible that we pass quick judgements to what we see. Judgment is the way we make sense of it. It is a label to describe what we don’t understand. A label that makes sense for the functioning of our ordinary lives.

It is not, therefore, about making the world a ‘better’ place. Since two persons who disagree on what exactly a better place is may in fact make the world a worse place to live. And to make it more confusing, what seems to be a worse place to live may actually be a better place for everyone. At least, this is what Moses found incomprehensible when he set out to follow his mentor, Khidr. Khidr warned Moses that “My company, you cannot endure” (Qur’an 18:67). Yet Moses hastily passed judgments—a label that makes sense—when he saw Khidr’s actions to be out of sense. In Moses’ hasty insistence on ‘a sense’, trust and respect that are developed between him and his mentor are at risk. Yet these are fundamental for learning to ever ensue.

What I am arguing is the following. If we can defer our judgment a little later, if we can maintain our respect a little further, maybe there will be more chance to understand what is extraordinary from each other as part of our own ordinary lives.