On the last day of 2018, I awakened from my sleep with the phrase, “The end of prevalence” on my mind. See, I was lying there in somewhat of a dream-like state, with my eyes closed, and a slight awareness of a full bladder. I could tell the room was no longer completely dark and that the sunlight was already peeking through the shades. That’s when I “heard” the words, “The end of prevalence.”
As I opened my eyes I thought, “Prevalence? Is that a even word? And why does it need to end?” Not sure if I really wanted to be fully awake, I reached for my phone and wrote the note, “The end of prevalence,” and closed my eyes again. Sometime later in the morning, I remembered my wake-up call and began to flesh out the word, prevalence… once I learned how to spell it that is.
Prevalence: the condition of being prevalent; widespread.
Prevalent: Widespread; of wide extent or occurrence; in general use of acceptance, and; Having the superiority or ascendancy.
So, what’s so bad about being widespread, superior, or in a position of power (ascendancy)? If you think about it, that’s what most of us are aspiring toward, right? Aren’t we all looking for more followers, more likes, more recognition, more… more? So, why on the eve of a new year, was I receiving the message, “The end of prevalence”?
I was ready to blame that special wake-up call on eating too much fried cabbage the day before. Let me explain, I’m used to hearing or sensing things when I’m in that half-wake, half-sleep state of mind. Usually, it is part of a song that rouses me. Other times, it’s a phrase or short sentence from a book or sermon that is recalled.
Once, during a season of financial difficulty, I even woke up hearing, “Read James, it’s about struggle.” But, “The end of prevalence” was different; weird and different. Was it a personal warning? Was it a specific instruction? Recalling how helpful it was to read James all those years ago; I couldn’t just dismiss this latest epistle, now could I? No, no I couldn’t. So, back to the confusing definition I went.
As I looked more, I was sure there had been an occasion or two that I had used the words, prevalent or prevalence… but why? What widely held thing or belief had I entertained in the past? It wasn’t until I began to look at the synonyms and antonyms that I started to understand.
That which is widespread, because of its extensive coverage, is often considered common and “everyday.” What we see and deal with daily, can easily become routine; causing us to no longer appreciate any unique nuances that make those experiences special. The end of prevalence is not warning against being “known,” no, it is more an encouragement to be known for what makes us uncommon and rare.
Being “uncommon” in today’s “Look at me!” society is not about being unpopular or unseen. No, it has more to do with being seen for how we stand out from the pack. Rather than keep up with the Kardasians, (or Kennedys, or Kimbles… or any other last name that begins with a “K”); being uncommon requires we become better acquainted with our own needs, passions, and unique talents.
Uncommon leaders lead from a place of authenticity and hope to add to those with whom they serve. Uncommon spouses set out to be suitable partners who nurture their marriages to maintain connection. Uncommon parents not only model right from wrong, they support the temperament and talents of their children, and discourage the creation of one-dimensional clones of themselves.
Those who are uncommon don’t settle for just being different. Being uncommon (exceptional, rare, extraordinary, inimitable…) requires we become comfortable at being uncomfortable. To end prevalence may mean we have to go against the flow, step away from the crowd, and tell more people, “No!”
Trends are prevalent. Integrity is rare. Pining after fame is common. Being okay in our own skin, without any applause, is exceptional. Given I received the wake-up call so early in the year, I figured I had the remainder of 2019 for work out what “the end of prevalence” meant for me. But actually, I still have a lifetime to go.
(Original 1/2019; Revised 8/2020)