The Cup of Mediocrity

mediocrity

“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. 

7 thoughts on “The Cup of Mediocrity

  1. The wife and I really love this blog and appreciate the creativity and imagery you provide. If you ever decide to take this blog to the next level by offering a Mobile App version we would love to help, we appreciate the hard work you have put into this blog and wish you all future success in business and in life.

    Thank you for your time, it is the most precious thing we all possess.
    -Jacque’

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  2. Marilyn, I’m glad you found a new definition for mediocrity. How I wish a TCK I was talking to a few days ago could find your definition. Dumb, mediocre, and other adjectives spewed out of his mouth as he described his brand new work place, a place and salary dozens of those just graduated from college would die for. Where on earth did we TCP (Third Culture People), Global Nomads, International travelers, etc. etc. get the arrogant idea that our life style is all glamour, excitement, superior, and more all-important than those who out number us by the millions and by design, choice, or whatever stick to the routine and mundane. Come to think of it, we could not have spent 34 years in a foreign country, enjoyed travel and exciting new places without the support of those in “mediocre” jobs and life styles. We couldn’t get very far in our travels without those who run the conveyer belts that move our baggage, or those on the tarmac servicing the plane, the immigrant taxi driver who gets us to the airport on time and all the others whose job we might term mediocre. I’m beginning to lose my patience and diplomacy with those of us blessed with global/international experiences and yet fail to fully embrace and acknowledge others whose experiences are quite the opposite, and as equally important. And it is not just the global vs non global attitudes. It’s there in small town vs cities. As you said, “it’s not where we live but how we live.” May I also suggest attitude.

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  3. Through Facebook, I keep in touch with kids from MCS on 4 continents, and missionary friends on 6 continents! I once had a friend railing against Facebook because of the unsavory sites on it, she was trying to persuade others to feel guilty about using it and to get off. I wrote in about what a blessing it is to keep in touch with MKs and missionaries and to get world news from different viewpoints than those presented on network news, and pretty much shut down the sniping immediately.
    We live in an amazing time, when communication around the world is mostly easy, and we can get accurate information from eyewitnesses. It is easy to live internationally, but you DO have to want to, and make the effort to go to the web and read the non-mainstream news. Make the effort, be a world Christian!

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  4. So true, Marilyn! I remember my wonderful Aunt Meg who, although she had once been as far as London, but who had lived all her years up to then in a small Scottish village ( she died at 103 and a half!) asking me : “Do you think the woman will get in?” She wasn’t talking about Margaret Thatchet, but about Benazir Bhutto’s election prospects.

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  5. Thank you so much for this and so many of your other posts. We have been back in the States for a year after living abroad, and have finally taken permanent jobs in our very lovely, but very small town. As many of my friends are returning to their international positions or moving to a new place, I have felt sad to be “left behind.” Yours is a good reminder to keep living internationally no matter where call home.

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