In an age of dazzling superstars and colossal events -- every century has them -- it's refreshing to hear someone say, "I lead such a dull life."
But who says it's better to vacation in Vegas than to put up 1,100 quarts of fruit at home? That it's better to seek the pie-in-the-sky than to just earn the daily bread? That writing your mother means less than producing the Great American Novel?
Maybe it's time to celebrate the virtues of leading a dull, ordinary life. There are more ants than grasshoppers, far more tortoises than hares, millions, in fact, who prefer the hum-drum to constant excitement.
We "dull-lifers" cross all lines -- economic, racial, political, sexual, and religious. If lucky, the skyrocket types might get to the life of a simple sparkler. Or vice-versa, since eery society has a Paul Gauguin, fleeing a brokerage to paint in Tahiti.
But fewer tickets are sold to Tahiti than to backyard barbecues. More people wear clothes off the racks than from Paris couturiers. Popular Mechanics outsells The New Yorker, and McDonald's has profits Maxim's might envy.
There are dull lives of quiet desperation, to be sure, but there are also dull lives of quiet enjoyment. So what if people like television or stoop-sitting? Pizza rather than Pate de fois gras? So most underwear is white, and geraniums the favorite?
There may be colorful proceedings in the investiture of a pope, but it's nothing compared to life's ordinary events: childbirth, graduation, nestleaving, marriage, paying the bills, and dying.
Patterns for avoiding the dull life might have begun when some of us elected to ride bikes no-handed. When we deliberately stepped on sidewalk cracks, or went to any lengths to find a new way home from grade school.
Dullsville is an Elmer-fudd year-book entry ("a solitary stone has more energy than a hurricane") with no activities after the name. Some dynamic dazzlers continue to major in extracurricular activities in college, often to beef up a career resume. But the Fudds know that such a frenetic pace eliminates not only the daily blahs, but the day altogether.
Nature itself operates a rather torpid cyclical routine, for it could never keep life going on Earth if the planet were constantly embroiled in tidal waves, earthquakes, tornadoes, or famine.
Every company has its small team of brainstormers, but the largest part of its work force is made up of ordinary folk who execute all those ideas: the "old reliables" who can be counted on. Those espousing the dull life rarely arouse jealousies among colleagues or suffer the terror of losing their touch," an anxiety common to office skyrockets.
And the dull life is the mainstay of our economy. The marketplace couldn't rest on trendy gourmet foods, $25,000 cars, and $500,000 homes. homes.coGeneral Motors, Sears, and Safeway would have gone under years ago.
The insurance industry prefers dull-living policyowners. They don't die suddenly from stress-based situations such as heart attacks or suicide. They're not so accident-prone, and try not to control other people's lives -- meaning they're less apt to be shot at or punched out. They usually change oil/filters after 3,000 miles and know that at breakneck speeds of 65-80, it's hard to enjoy the scenery.
Most of the world's constitutions were written for ordinary folk. Were Magna Carta or the Declaration of Independence earmarked for skyrockets? Guess who forms the base for every study about Americans? Who are the foundations for actuarial tables? Who do pollsters/researchers seek out for preferences in television programming, breakfast cereals, politics? Wasn't the Silent Majority another name for the dull-livers wooed by politicians?
If you have a dull life style, you can avoid self-help books, stress workshops, self-improvement courses, psychiatrists, and all kinds of courtrooms. You won't be kidnaped, nor called by commodity brokers, although you may be pestered at dinner time by screen-porch telephone solicitors.
You may bore dazzlers silly, but you're around in abundance because skyrockets have to shine before somebody. You're comfortable to be with, usually trustworthy and loyal, and not likely to beat anyone badly at golf or bridge. You're the listeners -- meaning you'll learn a lot and you won't spark ill feelings -- probably because nobody thinks you have anything to say anyway.
But think of all the time and energy saved in not having to bone up on politics, sports, bestsellers, the most-talked-about celebrity of the moment, the latest dire financial event. Ou don't have to exhaust yourself by always being "on" and oh-so clever.
You won't be gossiped about; you probably won't be led into temptation often enough. Even your marriage will offer the best of both worlds: Most pair dazzler with dull-lifer; one spouse is entertained; the other, drained.
The nice thing is that the dull life is always open to skyrockets who eventually run out of fuel. We retired skyrockets quietly tending our cabbages have learned we don't need to be constantly going, that highs don't need to be heightened, that communication with out fellows doesn't have to be competitive, brilliant, or a series of snappy one-liners. Silence or a touch are often far more eloquent.
We see things now because we're not whizzing through life to escape that horror: boredom. We come to see there are highs in the humble growth of a backyard squash, in someone playing the piano at dusk, or in a child's delight under a sprinkler . . . that true courage isn't taking on the lions and the tigers, but taking on the daily drudgeries and finding in them priceless samplers of human existence.
We're no longer gulping down life on the run. We're savoring each bite.