I had an unexpected response to my last post on feeling somewhat ordinary and deciding that what an ordinary accountant in the suburbs really needed was purple hair. It seemed to strike a chord with people I have never met – this feeling of just being a little dull, a little uninspiring, of being dependable. And it got me to thinking that what I was saying to the world is that reliability and being sensible and calm are not qualities to aspire to and to be proud of. But who doesn’t want someone like that by your side? We may not be the worlds most exciting personality types but we will be there and we will help share the load, and come back and do it again the next day. We will be the person who organises the trips and the flowers not the one who gets them. But if we don’t then there’s no flowers or trips for anyone. We facilitate.
So revel in your ordinariness and your capableness – it is as much a gift as any other and the people around you are lucky to have you in their life, whether they know it or not.
But if you hanker to do something just slightly out of the ordinary, then do it. Life is very often a series of cliches – so here are my contributions:
- life is short and precious, revel in it;
- no-one ever lay on their death bed saying “I’m so glad I never died my hair blue when I was 40”;
- try to find what makes you happy and do it as often as you can, it’s contagious.
I dropped Daniel at football practice this morning, ran a few bags of clothes down to the recycling and stopped for a quick coffee and to write for a bit before picking him up. My hair was unwashed and held back in a scrunchy, not looking my best. There was a little girl about three years old with her sister and parents at a table and as I paid for my coffee and went to sit down, I could hear a typical toddler piercing comment –
“LOOK! That lady has purple hair! It’s purple. PURPLE! Mummy that lady has purple hair. Purple. PURPLE!”
I smiled and went to sit down, aware in the background of her excited rant:
“mumble, mumble, mumble PURPLE mumble”
As her parents tried to shush her.
Eventually her mum came over with her and very tentatively said to me:
“I’m sorry to interupt you but she wanted to tell you herself how much she loved your hair”
I smiled at the little girl and offered:
“Would you like to see it not tied up?”
She nodded at me shyly, struck momentarily dumb – I’m not sure whether at the overwhelming feeling of being spoken to by a purple haired goddess or just at being brave enough to talk to a strange adult. (I choose the believe the first).
She admired my locks closely and wandered off with with her mum still muttering an incoherent stream of toddler speak with the occasional clearly enunciated “PURPLE!”.
I looked up and realised that the elderly couple next me were grinning widely at the interaction and made eye contact with me in shared joy at her infectious amazement. Eye contact, for petes sake! This is London! Then I looked around and pretty much all the customers in the cafe had been intently following the ineraction with smiles and laughs and a feeling of benign goodwill washed through the place for a few minutes.
So appreciate yourself for your enormous strengths and believe that others value you too. But if you hanker after purple hair, or blue nails or want to sing in the street, do that too because there is something intangible in these little pockets of quirkiness in people that you least expect it from that lifts people in small moments. And it’s contagious. Purple hair is contagious and managed to make the whole of Marks and Spencer cafe happy, just for a moment.
And it made me believe that one day, someone would take me to Paris without me planning it. And if they don’t, thats fine too because the world is lucky that I am the kind, WE are the kind, of person who organises things – Paris would be very empty without us.