About Average

Digital illustration from photos: Handy, or a Handful?

Am I handy, or just a handful?

I’ve always thought of myself, without any implied value judgement, as an average person. But given my conviction that each of us is as distinctive as the proverbial snowflake, being average does not imply sameness in every way or with every one. After all, I have my distinctions, as anyone who knows me in the least can tell.

Still, in my particular milieu, those paths I’ve trod in my life’s journey as well as the matrix of my personal genetics and environmental influences, I have never tended to stand out from the crowd much. Some of that could clearly have been thanks to my preference for being a wallflower and remaining as invisible as I could manage during all of the years of my intense anxiety and self-doubt. But I really did blend in more than not, even when I felt like an emotional outsider. I’ve generally been just about smack in the middle of the majority wherever I’ve found myself in life.

Few are the superficial and visible things by which I can or could be easily singled out from a crowd. I am of approximately average height and weight, not particularly short or tall, thin or fat. I wear what I’m told are the average sizes in clothing—mostly Mediums, if not numerically average in a more specific way—and the most common size of women’s  shoes, those also in the medium width. I have brown hair; I have all of the standard, requisite limbs and appendages and other body bits in the ordinary places one would expect to find them, and a relatively symmetrical frame. I am neither notably hideous by popular standards nor a stellar beauty.

My education extended to college and a master’s degree, something not everyone has the wealth or privilege to experience, and I got pretty good grades all through, but again, nothing to put me on the map or anyone’s Specialness radar. My personal life, my daily activities, my work life: these are all unmarred by major peculiarities or notable oddments that would make me memorable to anyone who wasn’t already paying attention to me. What does all this mean? Is it unusual that I’m, uh, not unusual?

Nope. I think what it means is that each of us, unique in some ways, is utterly average in others. The world isn’t actually divided neatly into things, let alone people, able to be classified as belonging in a certain percentile as Normal or Average, above or below it, and remain in that category in all ways, for all time. Every one of us people, places, things, animals, vegetables and minerals seems to have a complex, and ever-changing, collation of classifications, each of our characteristics being at its own level, some of which levels vary over time and—

Oh, never mind. This could devolve into such a death-spiral of convoluted thinking that I might just explode into some sort of extraordinariness, if I’m not careful.

[Muffled, slightly crazed laughter]

Snowflakes & Shadows

photoEvery one of us is said to be, like a snowflake, incomparable and magically, perfectly unique. The parade we saw this summer passing below our balcony was a dazzling reminder of this truth: hundreds of marchers, players, riders, movers, shakers and dancers were in the four-hour parade that wound through the city streets, and hundreds of thousands lined the route, and even the groups dressed in matching costumes or uniforms were groups of wonderfully individual characters.photo montageOur privileged hotel perch, though, highlighted the even greater beauty of the masses. The acute angle of the early sun gave sharp and shapely shadows to everyone in the crowd, and every single one of those shadows was the same color–grey. The shadows, like the people, were of an infinitely varied range in shape and movement and each attached only to him who cast it, but every shadow darkened the area near its maker in just the same way as everybody else’s. We may be unlike each other in nearly endless ways, but in some ways we are still all truly alike. It was lovely to see our differences and our commonalities literally on parade.digital artwork from a photo

When the Snow Lay Round About

Yes, it’s the 26th. The Feast of Stephen. And, amazingly, it is snowy. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this idea. I know, we’ve seen snow here before and even in much larger quantities, but after the overall increased heat and diminished precipitation of the last couple of years I was certainly not expecting anything snowy to happen, least of all right on the great day of Christmas itself. So it’s kind of amazing to have snow on the ground a whole day later. Oh, and pretty.photoThe snow is lying round about, all right, though not so deep. Relatively even, yes, and it’s definitely crisp. And did I mention pretty?photoHappy winter. Happy holidays. I’m happy to be looking out the window at sparkly, snowy, gleaming prettiness. Sure hope the ice on the road doesn’t slow us down any tomorrow, though, or my shallow delight and appearance-centric enthusiasm will undoubtedly flag. Unless King Wenceslas wants to come out and blaze the trail for us, which might be kind of cool. No pun intended. Aw, what the heck. Let it snow!