Monday, December 11, 2017

Why do we all need to be somebody special?

Our reaching out for singularity these days is not unexpected, given that social media bombards us with opportunities to acquire the latest product or the swiftest device to put us out in front of the crowd. Our jobs are sometimes less about intrinsic value or usefulness than position and status and salary. To be special is to be safe—from criticism, from dismissal.

Certainly we are indispensable to our children. And then when they grow up and leave, some of us feel a great emptiness. In our jobs and professions we have the experience of being special to a number of people. And much of our identity and sense of ourselves depends on that relationship. If we stop working, we find out how much we have depended on being so important to others.

But there’s another, not so obvious, dimension of being special: being distinguished in our misfortune or our misery. A victim is somebody special. I’m so unlucky, I’m so very ill, I have so much pain, that person really did me wrong and hurt me so much. Any one of these assertions may be true, but when we begin to build our identity on it, we’re in trouble. For instance, we can let a difficult childhood define our lives and control how we relate to others long after we have grown up. My suffering is unique. I had the worst childhood of anyone...

We share the physical elements and so much else with other beings; our lives are dependent on the conditions prevailing in our environment. This is being nobody special. How do we recognize and surrender to this without thought of image, achievement, comparison? Maurine Stuart advised, “All the simple, ordinary, everyday things we do—walking, cleaning, sitting—are ways to deeply penetrate this.”
Those extracts are from an article by Sandy Boucher in the Buddhist Tricycle magazine. That lady happily doing the everyday task of cleaning was photographed by me near the Tibetan Buddhist Thiksey monastery in Ladakh. It is very obvious that the music industry in particular and the world in general would be a much better place if everybody stopped trying to be special and instead focussed on simple, ordinary, everyday things. Sorry to upset people I'm linked to; but being told on Facebook that you are in the Emirates lounge at Heathrow doesn't impress me at all. It just leaves me wondering what you are over-compensating for.

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