My favorite place to be is in my own home surrounded by my books (I acknowledge a slight, okay, major addiction) and my people (both human and furry). It’s familiar, comfortable and I’m as happy as a cat stretched out in a sunny window seat. There’s nothing better after a day of work or being gone for a time to come home. Home is where the heart is after all, and maybe that’s because if we look at what we want as humans, it’s security: Our own space, a place to rest from the chaos beyond our threshold, and the safety of four walls to keep what’s scary at bay.
Really, I’m motivated to get home. After a day of working with teenagers (because let’s face it, teenagers are scary. Uh . . . scary fun), the sitting in traffic seems like cruel and unusual punishment of torture; my one track mind only thinks about pulling up into my driveway and walking into the house where I drop my stuff and put my feet up. At home, I’m able to choose from a variety of things to do to entertain myself from binge watching TV (have you seen Hulu's Castle Rock yet?), reading a book (currently: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah), testing a new recipe, playing the piano or working on the current WIP (Work in Progress). It’s my own little world where I’m master and commander of my fate. I’m the hero of my own story and I’m in control.
Joseph Campbell, prolific in his work on the “monomyth” in a variety of cultures, studied the commonalities and symbolism of the story of the hero and his quest (His journey actually has 17 steps but for the sake of this blog, I'll be looking at eight). Christopher Vogler then applied Campbell’s studies about the hero’s journey to the creative process of writing (though he emphasized screenwriting - just watch Star Wars: A New Hope). Campbell identified the starting place of the voyage as The Ordinary World. Maybe I’m a weirdo (remove the maybe; it's a freaking truth) but I’m comparing my home to this idea of the ordinary world.
The Ordinary World is the moment in the narrative when we, as the audience, get to meet the hero and learn about her (Hey [hand shoots up and waving it around like mad] That’s me! That’s me!) This moment is when we learn who I am, what I like, how I’m motivated, and the way in which I respond to others and issues that arise in my world. Since I’m in control of this little realm, I live on an island in the Pacific and I consider myself a writer (though my paycheck would indicate I teach teenagers about stories and writing). I love stories, music, my people and my furry people. Pretty much everything that inspires me and motivates me is wrapped up in those things. I might believe that if you “mess with the bull you get the horns” but I’ve never had to apply that belief since I tend to be non-confrontational. I think that maybe I’m adventurous, as long as it can be achieved sitting on my couch in my house with my nose in a book because, well, that’s certainly safe. The news is full of terrifying stories that I’ve no business wrapping myself up in though I can imagine some pretty awesome stories in fantastic places I’m able to research on the Internet! Suffice it to say, I love my Ordinary World!
Here’s the thing about Campbell’s work though. The hero never stays in the Ordinary World and that makes me a little nervous. Sure, I have this romantic notion about adventure. I can picture myself as Indiana Jones sidekick Jane (the one that has her name in the credits so I survive to the end of the movie). I can imagine myself traipsing through The Louvre trying to break a special code tied up in the smile of the Mona Lisa. I’m also realistic enough to know that life doesn’t really operate that way and is rarely tied up in neat packages that come full circle, so my couch and a good book are a great way to experience the adventure. The beauty of it is, however, I don’t have to change in my Ordinary World. I’m content and safe, and so hanging out in that space is pretty freaking incredible.
I think the truth, then, is that I’m just a pretty ordinary Jane living an ordinary life in and ordinary world. I’m not fantastic or a literary genius. I’m creative but that doesn’t mean I’m changing the world with my creativity (and I wish I could albeit for my extreme ordinariness – maybe it’s like a disease or something. Homosapien Ordinariness Syndrominus). And that’s okay, right? Hans Christian Anderson said, “The whole world is a series of miracles but we’re so used to them that we call them ordinary things.” So this Ordinary World, maybe, is a great big miracle and my hero’s journey, here in this ordinary world, is exactly what it’s supposed to be: Ordinary.