Ordinary People

This month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, drawing from my “Grab Bag of Delectable and Occasionally Edifying Interwebby Wonderments.”

Because my brain was all explodey and fatigued after four days of staff meetings, and due to my apparent complete inability to plan ahead, I didn’t post yesterday. For the purposes of sanity, I’m combining my “O” and “P” posts. Since quite a few of my earlier posts were twice as long as they should have been, it all evens out. Or so I tell myself.

There’s another reason for the combined post. I was talking to a friend yesterday, one of those “state of the world” conversations about the hopes we’d both had that our daughters wouldn’t have to re-fight the same battles we’d fought, about the shockingly vile and vicious comments people feel entitled to post in online forums, and about how casually indifferent so many people seem to have become to the suffering, both great and small, of others.

My friend observed that, instead of embracing the cult of celebrity and allowing ourselves to get caught up in macabre fascination with the awfulness blatted at us from the news every day, we’d be happier if we spent more time focusing on  the lives and struggles of ordinary people.

“We don’t need superheroes,” she said. “We need to celebrate our everyday heroes.” She wasn’t talking about the people who step in front of moving cars to rescue small children. She was talking about the people  whose everyday acts of bravery, compassion, and kindness who make this world a better place.

She was talking about:

  • The woman in the supermarket who insists on making up the difference when the person in front of her doesn’t have enough money to cover her groceries.
  • The guy who runs across a busy street to help when he sees someone fall down. (Thank you, ordinary guy–I owe you one.)
  • The frail old man with the walker who makes the effort to bend and retrieve the bag up dropped by the even frailer old woman in front of him.
  • The woman who doesn’t walk past the homeless guy, pretending not to see him, but squats down to say “hey, how’s it going?” and connect with him, human being to human being.
  • The kid who shovels the snow off his elderly neighbour’s stairs and sidewalk without being asked (or told).
  • The woman out walking her dog at night who recognizes the expression of fear when she sees a young woman running down the street and stops to help. (Thank you, ordinary woman for walking my daughter home.)
  • The man who speaks up when he overhears someone on the bus saying something racist or homophobic or sexist to another passenger (and the bus driver who backs him up).
  • The single mother who works at a crap job and goes hungry to make sure her kids get enough to eat.
  • The family who leave everything behind–relatives, friends, most of their possessions–and manage to rebuild their lives from scratch in a country that frequently treats them like parasites or criminals.
  • The woman who jumps out of her car in rush hour traffic to save a lost dog from getting pancaked.
  • The people who dig deep to support their uninsured neighbour whose apartment just went up in flames.

Ordinary people, making the extraordinary most of their time on this planet–definitely something to celebrate.

We can’t fall any further
If we can’t feel ordinary love – U2

A to Z Challenge: From University to U2

During the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge I’m posting what I like to describe as “semi-useful” procrastination strategies for writers and others who may need a little break from the task at hand from time to time.

Perhaps it’s a failure of my talents as a researcher, but I found “U” to be a freakishly difficult letter when it comes to distracting pursuits. Seriously, people, if you’re even now putting the finishing touches on your own contribution to the vast panoply of interwebby procrastination enabling sites, I suggest you seriously consider naming it something beginning with “U,” because the field seems remarkably clear.

That said, I don’t come to this post empty-handed.

University:  For those of you who prefer your procrastination with a side of erudition, Open Culture will point you in the direction of 700 free online courses from universities such Oxford, Berkeley, University of British Columbia, Yale, Cambridge, University of Queensland, and many others. Learn a language, brush up on your calculus (go on, I dare you!) or dip into robotics. What better way to procrastinate than feeding your hungry brain? If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you’ll find another 339 courses at Coursera, where you’ll find offerings like Statistical Molecular Thermodynamics (and you thought calculus was scary) or Live! A History of Art for Artists, Animators and Gamers.

Urban Legends: Snopes describes itself as the “definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.” Irresistible, right? Who doesn’t want to race right over to find out whether or not the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” originated as a coded message used to recruit pirates? 

Under Milk Wood

I have an enduring love for the work of Dylan Thomas. That man could do things with the English language that make my head spin with delight (but not in a possessed, bring-in-the-exorcist sort of way). There are full-length versions of Richard Burton reading Thomas’s Under Milk Wood online, but I chose to share this abridged version because (a) it’s abridged and I know you have Important Things to Do, and (b) I thought that YouTube user kaariidoll‘s illustrations complement the imagery so perfectly. Even if you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, listen to the first couple of minutes, or even the first thirty seconds to get a taste of the deliciousness of the language.

Finally, how about a little U2?

There are some terrific bloggers participating in the challenge this year. Check them out over here.