May 13: E-X-T-R-A-O-R-D-I-N-A-R-Y

To be ordinary is to be simple, plain, common and undistinguished. You don’t stand out. You blend in, camouflaged among all the others. But to be extraordinary is to be exceptional, noteworthy or remarkable. You stick out and usually in a way that exceeds the standard deviations from the median. A remarkable person can be either positive or negative. In Mrs Rosenthal’s 4th grade class, there was a remarkable boy named Timothy. He had a major malfunction one day, stabbed the teacher with his pencil and fled class. He flicked her (and all of us voyeurs at the windows) the bird before running across the field from our corner classroom towards the bike path near Pinelands Presbyterian church. That memory is vivid: his high water tan pants and stripped shirt, the towhead blonde hair cut in the shape of a bowl, the bo-bo sneakers (even Converse Chucks were too expensive for most of us…our sneaks came from the Woolco store off Alaphatha Road. While Timmy was remarkable I would not categorize him as extraordinary.

In the vein of Martha S….extraordinary is a good thing. And on this Friday the 13th, this thirteen letter word is my word of the day.

Survival through childhood and young adulthood means to blend in. Predators pick off the outliers, the gimpy, the lame, the slow and the gawky. The herd provides safety and protection. Despite contemporary awareness, bullying is nothing new nor it is a plague¬† reserved for LGBT kids. All outlier kids know the risk, understand the feeling of having a target on their backs. And it doesn’t matter if you were in the learning lab or the honor’s classes….outside the bell curve put you at risk.

Until adulthood. Then, being the outlier shifts. And I think about those kids with whom I finally found purchase, my clique who were all just a little different. Not quite the popular crowd or the prom kings. But now……we are all pretty extraordinary. Executives at blue chip companies that build their own houses, consultants that traverse the globe and solve the problems of multinationals, attorneys and professors and high level administrators. Careers adorned with sailing, triathlons, military service and all manner of cool hobbies and interests.

And on a day you wish to crawl into your dark closet and weep…it is a struggle to find hope or encouragement. How do you renew your faith? Where do you find your strength? There is no vending machine for chutzpah. So the best way to restore yourself is to look at your herd…..with whom do you aggregate? And I realize I have some truly extraordinary friends. Original designs. No knock-offs. No impostors. People who are unusual but authentic and remarkable and noteworthy. And DuPont’s motto applies……better living through chemistry. And in chemistry, like dissolves like.

Being extraordinary isn’t vanity or egotism. It just is. It doesn’t subtract from anyone else’s mojo. My mojo comes from the universe, it isn’t whittled off of your mojo. So why be a hater? Trust me….it wasn’t always easy or fun. It still isn’t easy or fun….not always. But it is what it is. I am what I am. And today….when crawling in a dark closet seemed like a reasonable option for dealing with the bullshit of the world……I am really thankful that I somehow got reminded that I am one of those extraordinary folks. Unusual, uncommon. Maybe a sore thumb, at times. But, I can’t change who I am. And I wouldn’t trade off being me for any amount of anything.

Here is some inspiration.

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