Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples, and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.
William Martin wrote these words. Numerous people--including some of my kids--have quoted them. I had never seen them until yesterday. I wish I'd written them, because I think they're brilliant.
I don't know if I raised my kids this way, and I'm not one to judge because, of course, they were always extraordinary to me. Still are. But this poem explained something to me about why I write and read the things I do. Why I am often unmoved by books with alpha heroes and "spunky" heroines and massive wealth. Why beautiful heroines sometimes make me do the so-so sawing motion with my hand and heroes without flaws will make me resort to watching "Big Bang Theory" reruns because, you know, I love Leonard. Even though he's short and lactose intolerant.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with all these things--there isn't. But neither is there anything wrong with the hero from next door who wears glasses, or the heroine with ten extra pounds on each hip, or the protagonists who live in old farmhouses and pay mortgages and drop their loose change into Salvation Army buckets. These people who populate some of my books and many, many of the ones I love have made the ordinary come alive for me. They've made it extraordinary.
The poem is contained in William Martin's book, The Parent's Tao Te Ching. (available anywhere). You can learn more about him and his work at http://www.taoiststudies.com