last year

I am not special. I am important.

One of those quirky (and fairly dysfunctional) things that I learned growing up is that I need to be special to be okay.

It wasn’t enough to be me. I had to be special me.

When I was in school, one year the teacher asked us to write a report on what we’d be when we grew up. Being me wasn’t enough to write a report on. So what would I be when I grew up? Something special.

This is a recipe for unhappiness, of course. Because even if I succeeded in becoming something special, even if I got the admiration, adoration, and approval that I thought I wanted, I’d be left with a terrible anxiety inside. A doubt…”Is it me they love? Or my specialness?”

My specialness can disappear. For example, if my specialness is some special talent or ability, I could lose it. Or it can easily turn into something that people despise instead of love.

So no matter how special I manage to become, it only makes me more anxious, feeling more isolated.

Fortunately, I was so completely miserable being special – with my special OCD, special anger, special aloofness – I had to die to specialness.

And what that left was just me.

Just me…and the totality of life.

In comparison to the totality of life, it’s tempting to fall into the idea that I’m unimportant. Because I’m apparently pretty small and apparently pretty insignificant. And life is apparently really huge. After all, life is holding it all, moving it all, being it all. The stars and the light that stretch across space so vast that it might as well be infinite. Planets orbiting those stars. Moons orbiting some of the planets. Planets so large that in and of themselves, they make me appear insignificant.

But my heart is also beat by the same life. My apparent life is animated by that same intelligence.

And it is intelligent. It is responsive and creative and alive. Clearly. All I have to do is open my eyes and it is clear.

Heck, I don’t even have to open my eyes. Even with them closed, here is an infinite universe seemingly “within”. Alive, intelligent, aware.

In direct experience, my life isn’t separate from life itself.

I may not be special. Blessedly so.

But I am important.

You are important. Not because you are special, though.

Just because we are. We are important because we are.

There is another option, you know. As Shakespeare famously posed it…to be or not to be.

But this is not a choice we can be assured that we get to make. Me, my idea of myself as a separate, time-bound thing…do I get to choose to be or not to be? Would killing myself result in not being?

I don’t think so. Plenty have killed themselves, but still, being persists.

So to be or not to be is not my choice, not your choice.

Being is happening. Being is choosing me. I can know this because here I am.

Sometimes it seems like and appears like torture. Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes we wish it wasn’t.

But wishes aside, being is happening. So rather than wishing or hoping, what can I do?

I can choose being now. I can choose my life now. I can choose what is and live from trust. I can choose all of what I am as important…not just the parts that I think are good, acceptable, and okay. All of me, all of my experiences.

What I’ve found is that choosing to live from trust is terrifying to my self-concept. My conditioned ideas of myself as an island responsible for all my own experiences and feelings and for being special can’t co-exist with the immediate direct raw experience of 100% choosing this now.

My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay when I have $$$ in my bank account enough. My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay if people approve of me. My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay if I’m “getting it right”.

But these ideas are stiffling. This whole idea of myself is like a straightjacket.

Here’s the question I ask: am I truly fulfilled?

If the answer is no, there are three options:

1. Ignore the warning signs and keep doing more of the same

2. React by seeking for solutions to the problem

3. Trust fully, surrender to life, and be moved

I tried the first two for most of my life with extremely painful results. Ultimately, the pain of that led/forced me to truly open to the third option.

The third option is humbling. It is unknown. It completely undoes my ideas of myself.

It strips me bare and often puts me on display in uncomfortable ways. It leaves me exposed, vulnerable. It has repeatedly shown me that I don’t need the money, things, experience, people, or other things that I thought I needed to be okay or fulfilled.

This way is uncommon, though I suspect that it is becoming more common. It is uncommon because it flies in the face of what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves and life. But I believe it is becoming more common because more and more people are waking up to just how painful the other options are.

Collectively, humanity has more than enough nuclear weapons to ensure that doing more of the same is a terrible idea.

And we’ve sought for solutions (at the level of consciousness that created the problems in the first place) without success. The search for solutions leads to the holocaust and to the (in my humble opinion absolutely insane) neuralink (google it) and to rare earth mineral mining and tar sands projects and on and on.

So those of us with open minds and open hearts are ready for a different option.

And I am proposing the third option – surrender to life, trust in the intelligence that beats our hearts.

This is a messy option. It doesn’t allow for the 1% to decide for the 99%. It doesn’t even allow for representative democracy.

Because this third option acknowledges the importance of everyone and everything. And the wholeness and integrity of everyone and everything.

It requires that we prioritize listening. Listening to our hearts. Listening to one another. And listening to those who don’t speak in the same language we do…

Which requires patience. And slowing down. And a willingness to see and feel and be witness to what we have tried to avoid.

Because when I surrender to life, I am humbled to realize that I am not the center of the universe. Everything and everyone is important. And this reveals that my own experience is not just for me. My experience is a gift that is given through me.

A humble receiving of my own experience without treating it as a problem or trying to solve it, without trying to ignore it or sweep it under the rug…but a true surrender…is my spiritual practice, as it were.

That’s what I am here in service of.

Joey Lott

Joey Lott is the author of numerous books, including The Best Thing That Never Happened and The Little Book of Big Healing. He lives in southern Vermont with his wife and children.

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