“I would rather die of thirst than drink from the cup of mediocrity”
A number of years ago, this slogan from Stella Artois brewing company hung on our kitchen cupboard. It stayed there for at least four years. It captured the essence of what we felt life should be – a striving for adventure, discovery, excellence, and God. No matter that it was from a beer company — we adopted it as our own. That along with “Seize the day” and “Be a Critical Thinker.”
The signs were outer symbols of an inner fear — how could we raise children in a small town to think bigger than the town where we lived at the time? How could we ensure that they would understand the world as bigger than where they were — as bigger than a small school and a smaller library?
While living in Pakistan and Cairo this was not a fear. Their passports held stamps from around the world and they were already familiar interacting with those around them.They knew kids from many different countries and their diet ranged from Middle Eastern to Pakistani to street food. They could order items from a menu in Arabic and English, and their babysitter did not speak a word of English. They knew and interacted with people from different cultures, different belief systems, and different family dynamics.They had grown up under the shadow of minarets, just as I had, and the call to prayer was one of the only constants in their lives.
But that had all changed. We now lived in a lovely Victorian home on Main Street, U.S.A. They walked to an elementary school up a hill and played soccer on a field near by. We now had a television — although thankfully we had not yet discovered cable. We were living someone else’s dream. We had exchanged the extraordinary for the mundane; the exceptional for the mediocre – or so I thought.
Had we abandoned a life of change and growth for a mere existence of mediocrity?
But mediocrity is like stability: It’s not about where you live, it’s about how you live. I have met plenty of people in my life who live fully and well in small towns; I have met others who lived life afraid and sheltered overseas. I have met families who, in the midst of suburbia, gave their kids a deep love for the world and the one who is different and I have met families in the midst of the developing world who despised those around them.
It’s not about where you live – it’s about how you live.
It’s about not swallowing the koolaid that gives us a formula for a successful life.
It’s about being aware and humble toward those around us.
It’s about making big and small choices that move us outside our comfort zones.
It’s about loving God and his world, no matter where our feet are planted.
I still hold to the slogan – I would still rather die of thirst than drink from the cup of mediocrity. But my definiton of mediocrity has changed, and that makes all the difference.