The Ordinary & the Radical

The Ordinary & the Radical

If you remember back to the very first article posted to the Be Pedestrian column, we wrote:

The word pedestrian can serve as a noun or as an adjective. While the adjective use of this term is often a pejorative, we are quite fond of this overlap of identity and have intentionally entitled this section, which we intend to include every week, ‘Be Pedestrian.’ We intend it as a charge to embrace the everydayness of ordinary neighborliness...

This week we want to emphasize the ordinary, seemingly trivial habits of daily life. Those basic and everyday tasks of living that we often do without even thinking about them; We brush our teeth, possibly prepare breakfast or at least a cup of coffee, maybe we listen to something on our commute.  The smallest of activities that we do everyday often slip by unnoticed appearing to us as trivialities. Though it is those things that we do everyday, with regularity that truly make up our lives.

Many mindfulness teachers have encouraged us to be present and aware, though if we are honest it is often a challenge, especially when we are on auto-pilot. Productivity coaches have encouraged us to construct an intentional morning routine. Intention and attention have been prescribed again and again because of how deeply significant our ordinary, everyday activities really matter. Habit is a powerful force and try as we might it is often a force that has momentum beyond our immediate ability to steer.

Many of us have deeply held values that we aspire to. We long to live 'radical' lives that make an impact on the world around us. Authors and speakers use this word to paint compelling pictures of sacrifice and struggle in the face of adversity. It seems that somehow we have, at least at times, let our eyes drift from the immediate to the lofty and, when we do the math, those small ordinary everyday habits, conflicts, struggles, and opportunities that make up the majority of our waking hours are left to unfold without much attention or intention.

Do you know what a radish is? Of course you do! It's a root vegetable that gets very mixed reviews among varying pallets. The name radish comes from the Latin, radix, which means root. It is the same Latin root word from which we get the word radical, radicalis (“of or pertaining to the root, having roots, radical”) While we might picture unique and out of the ordinary acts when we hear the word, it is actually a reference to being rooted, perhaps in a value, a conviction, or even in a community. Healthy roots bring nutrients and stability to a plant much like healthy habits and relationships bring to our lives and our communities.

As you go about your day-to-day, consider where and how you are rooting yourself. In your habits, in your mindset, in your relationships, and in your community. So much of your life is made up of the daily, seemingly mundane decisions, purchases, statements, and rituals that we want to encourage you once again, along with the mindfulness mentors and productivity coaches to be pay attention and be intentional about the ordinary. For it seems that it is there that the radical life is rooted.