Letter From the Editor: Discover the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary
There’s a famous book from the Ming Dynasty called The Wisdom of Vegetable Roots, which explores the essence of life and the nature of the universe. Almost 500 years after it was written, I was reading it recently, and one passage stood out to me: “Rich wine, juicy meat, spicy and sweet tastes, these don’t have true flavours. In fact, true flavour is quite light. The sage doesn’t seem extraordinary. A true sage actually looks quite ordinary.”
Good food doesn’t require much seasoning, and wise people don’t necessarily stand out. Enlightened by this thought, my team and I embarked on a journey to discover the extraordinary elements hidden within our ordinary lives.
Take snow as an example. It’s a fact of life for Canadian winters, not worth more than a passing thought. Yet British artist Simon Beck turns snowy fields into gigantic canvases for his art. Beck walks through the snow, guided by his vision, to create breathtaking patterns with his footprints.
American knifemaker Chelsea Miller has taken an ordinary kitchen tool and infused it with story and passion. She forges each knife from horseshoe rasps and wood cut down from her family farm. Every knife has its own story that starts with her, but continues through its owners.
Known for her award-winning still life photographs, Paulette Tavormina brings back to life the lush detail of seventeenth century paintings, reminding us of the dormant beauty in everyday life.
Our cover story features Lord and Lady Carnarvon, the British couple who live at Highclere Castle, best known as the setting of Downton Abbey. Amidst their extraordinary life, the Carnarvons find pleasure in the most ordinary moments—spending time with family, fostering the land, and welcoming the castle’s visitors to discover a precious heritage.
Weiyu Chen, a popular Chinese-Canadian YouTube influencer, has attracted millions of viewers to her news channel by taking a gentle and honest approach in her videos. Seemingly untouched by the chaotic world, Chen’s calm voice has a comforting effect even when she talks about difficult current affairs. She often gives a refreshing take on troubling issues.
A great philosopher in the Song Dynasty once described the three stages of life as “seeing a mountain as a mountain; seeing a mountain not as a mountain; then seeing a mountain still as a mountain.” Finding the extraordinary aspects of ordinary experiences is like looking at a mountain throughout the different phases of life. At the end of the journey, after all the ups and downs, you realize that the meaning you’ve been searching for is within you while the mountain remains unchanged.
Whether it’s as simple as enjoying a meal with family, watching the clouds pass overhead, or listening to birds singing outside the window, we can have extraordinary experiences within these seemingly mundane moments of life. It’s in these fleeting instances that we can find true happiness and transcend the ordinary without even trying.