(Part IV in Totem Series, cont’d from ‘Common’ Ground )
To become as “common” as an Ordinary Sparrow, does not sound like much of an aspiration.
But, when you’re a kid hoping to “fit in” and be no different from everybody else, it makes for a giant leap forward. Particularly, if you have several disadvantages to begin with, and becoming “common” would be a “step up,” not a “step down” the socio-economic ladder.
My father never finished 6th grade. He came from a small Greek Island with no understanding of the English language, barely learning during his entire life how to write his name, let alone to read. He worked as a chef and was damn good at it. He left the bills and taxes for mom to handle. She was a high school graduate, the first in a family with 9 siblings to get a diploma. Only one other in her immediate family ever got as far as her in school. She became a waitress. I was one of three boys, the youngest. only two of us made it through high school, having been taken out of the Catholic high school for disciplinary reasons as well as to learn a skill at a trade school. My oldest brother flunked out, and entered the army rather than face prosecution for some stupid crime he and some other 18-year-olds had committed. I learned to be a printer, my second oldest brother, an electrician.
Boy, what I wouldn’t have given to grow up under other more “normal,” more “ordinary,” more “common” conditions.
But looking back, I see I was fortunate to have such a life. I had nowhere to go but up. And no expectations to meet, save for those “extra-ordinary” ones I would eventually create myself. I only needed to reach a “common ground” with my peers and anything above that could be considered an “over-achievement.”