Saturday, May 03, 2008

We Are All Special, Just Like Everyone Else...

This topic is getting more complicated as I peel the layers away. It may actually take on a life of its own. :)

I thought about this quote:

Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

(Thanks to Jen for allowing me to use this which is on her blog banner. :)

Putting it into this frame, it raises some good points about individuality, how it is defined and how it manifests.

Recognizing how our individuality manifests in community is fairly easy. We come to know that our individual traits become a part of our immediate community and how we contribute. We forge an identity from that. That, in my opinion, is the core of individuality and how we recognize it in ourselves and others. It is how we find meaning.

But there is an external system that leads us to believe that our individuality is dependent on how we stand out, how we can be different than others, how we can create a peak experience. When we can't find that peak experience, we begin to feel we have no purpose.

Charles Eisenstein says it best in the book I've been pushing lately. He says: "The result is that we lack the means to establish a strong identity. No one knows our story. Human beings have always defined themselves in great part through their relationships with others, building a common story defining each of its actors. Now these stories have splintered themselves into tiny four person units [...] Unlike the small village or tribe, where everyone knew your story and you knew everyone else's you had a context to create a solid story of self. Today we interact day-in and day-out with outsiders. We maintain our private lives and know little of the lives of [others]."

This is a result of money-based culture, the commoditization of time and relationships. This isn't just about the little pieces of paper that represent specific amounts of value. It's not about money, per se. It is about monetizing. It is about seeing energy as investment. It is about seeing our lives as increments of time which must be used for production and results. Interaction has become focused on what we can get, what we need and what investment (energy) we must exert to "make our dreams come true."

This attitude causes our interactions to become superficial and hollow. That is what brings about the "Blink" response as we immediately evaluate how an Other may be part of our goal or not part of it. Our limbic instinct for survival and the ability to determine safe from unsafe has become perverted. Individuality is lost in a sea of unrealistic expectations. That, again, makes us question our importance as individuals.

Realistically, in my opinion, until we give up the fantasies of what we should be and what others should be, we'll remain in this position. Nothing will ever be enough. Finding our own individuality starts with accepting others as they are. It comes with accepting that fantasies are fantasies for a reason. It comes with accepting that all of us are fundamentally good beings who are fine, just as we are.

Consumer culture will continue to take something we already have and sell it back to us. It will convince us that fantasies are reality and that if we just own the right things and know the right people, we will achieve the peak experience of "finding ourselves." Just buy my book and I'll hand you the answers on a half shell. But it's a lie. There is no book and the knowledge is free.

We're already found.

We're already valuable.

We're already special. We are special to the people whose lives we touch, however lightly, and we are special because we are human beings with all of our good points, our bad points, our questioning, our inherent desire to share (each in our own way) and our inherent capacity to love.

But we have to learn to frame that differently than the culture has framed it for us.

Am I making some sense here?

(More to come. There's a lot more to peel back on this topic.)


Angela said...

I find myself just wanting to say "yes" over and over. So I suppose that's what I'll do. Yes!

flutter said...

I am enjoying reading this

Anonymous said...

Sharing a quote I love:

(Old Jewish Saying): When you die and go up to heaven, your maker is not going to ask you why you were not like Joseph or Moses but why you didn't become you.

Oh, and this one too:

(e e cummings): to be nobody but yourself. . . . .in a world that is trying its best. . . . .night and day. . . . to make you everybody else. . . . .means to fight the hardest battle. . . . .which any human being can fight. . and never stop fighting

I've got scores of quotes on this theme because, IMHO, the most important "job" of a lifetime is to be who you really are: the greatest act of self-love.

Nice unfolding you've got going.

jen said...

yes. i think this is the trap, right...doing vs. being. we "do" in order to get praise. but the "being" is praiseworthy enough, yes?

I look forward to what comes next and now the FC post makes so much sense.

jen said...

I meant, FC quote!

Olivia said...

You are making a great deal of sense to me!! And I'm enjoying reading about your views very much too, Chani. Continued blessings, O

slouching mom said...

so much food for thought here... i hope you continue with this series.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

It makes a great deal of sense, Chani. It's what I'm struggling with in my life, too, right now - getting rid of the extraneous and focusing on working towards healing myself, my loved ones and the world. I'm not meaning to sound grandiose. It's more that I'm trying to simplify and focus on what matters.

blooming desertpea said...

It is hard to be an individual when society is working towards making us all the same - if you do other than what you are supposed to do, you are a freak and you will be singled out. We are only someone if we do better than our colleagues and we get no praise for being a working wheel of the machine. So, yes, you make a lot of sense. If society doesn't stop playing the game of "my dick is bigger than yours" (quote from "The Job" by Douglas) which starts on the playground (s. Emily's post) we will not get moving ...

hele said...

You are making a lot of sense. This realization that I am exactly where I am - no more and no less is what keeps me sane while studying.

As long as I keep comparing myself with what I think I should be studying is very painful. As soon as I make peace with knowing just as much as I do, something lets go and I find myself more receptive to learning.

Angela said...

This is amazing, Chani. Just great, great reading/thinking to be had here. I'd love for you to write a bit about boredom sometime. I'd love your thoughts on this. Just sayin'. No rush ; )

Mariposa said...

I enjoyed reading this...was here yesterday...and re-reading now. I'm speechless and is pregnant with so many thoughts...

Another wonderful post...wonderful topic!

QT said...

I can't wait to read more Chani. All I have to say is - ditto.

crazymumma said...

It is like an onion isn't it? Peeling back to reach a core of understanding.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think that so many people are unhappy in their close relationships because they have been brainwashed to choose a certain kind of person, yet that person turns out to be incompatible with who they really are.

Meanwhile, they completely overlooked the less glittery ones with whom they could have perhaps enjoyed a deep and lasting happiness.

In the job sphere, too, most people are miserable because they are not doing what they were born to do.

If people were encouraged to know and understand themselves better, they would make all their life's choices from a solid position of self-trust and even self-love, without which it is not possible to love others.

JCK said...

There is a lot to peel back on this topic. And you're doing it. Great thoughts to ponder, mull over. One of the joys I get from blogging is connecting with a community. Connection. A powerful thing.

thailandchani said...

Angela and Flutter, thanks. :) I'm hoping they will at least generate thought.


Wendy, I love the old Jewish saying. How true! We all need to know who we really are so that we can become more fully who we are.


Jen, yes on both counts - the being and the FC quote.


Olivia, thanks. :) I've gotten the impression from reading your site that they are reasonably consistent with your thoughts, too. Blessings right backatcha :)


Sarah, there are a few more posts on the topic brewing. :)


JenA2, I get you. It doesn't sound grandiose at all. It's just a matter of actualizing ourselves and our passions. The helping comes automatically.


Desertpea, yes.. the "my dick is bigger than yours" serves the PTB and keeps all of us in a constant state of dissatisfaction. Yes, we are made to stand out when we don't buy into it. (Believe me, as a dissident, I get *that* one really well! :) Still.. what's the alternative?


Hele, exactly.


Angela, I'm working on the boredom post. It will be up probably Wednesday.. for Wellness Wednesday.


Mariposa, it would be interesting to know what you're thinking. :)Perhaps a post from you?


QT, thanks. :)


CM, yes.. that's what it is. Peeling back, peeling back, getting to the core.. then we have a chance at changing it.


Susan, yes.. choosing others as though we are choosing another pair of shoes or a bedroom set. Consumer culture. Commodification of others. It's all part of the pattern.

Loving ourselves should be so simple - if we understand that it's not about peak experiences. If we understand that we're not separate after all, and we love everyone, we're automatically included. It's not a weigh and measure process. It's an acceptance process.


JCK, yes.. it's revealing the community. Years ago when I took EST, they did say one thing that's true. It already exists. We just have to acknowledge it.


Chanda (aka Bea) said...

"We're already found.

We're already valuable.

We're already special".

Those three lines resonated for me in a very personal way. To be able to understand/embrace this within ourselves, within myself, would be the "key" to a larger journey. Excellent post, and some serious food for thought.

Defiantmuse said...

I'm back. Sorta kinda. :)

What I love about where I live is the community. There is truly a sense of community. I have it on the land that I live, the land we share with our neighbor. We grow food and we share meals and watch each other's kids and care for each other's animals when one of us goes out of town.

But it's not just in the community we've created on our 15 acres. It's in the larger community that surrounds us as well. In this town and the neighboring town across the bay there is a very strong sense of community. We have a half dozen farmer's markets every week. There are workshops and classes of all kinds but most relating to the counterculture/metaphysical avenues. There are community gardens and two large natural food co-ops. The town across the bay had banned chained stores from opening their doors. There is not a single fast food restaurant within the city limits. The emphasis on everything here is Buy Local and Buy Organic.

I realize I'm lucky. This place is a haven. But we moved here consciously. It was a decision we made to raise our daughter in a community like this. We struggled to make it here, and still are, but it was considered important enough to scale back our lifestyle and live more simply.

And as we live here, day to day, we find ourselves living life more authentically and stripping away all the shit to get to the core of it.

I'm ranting. lol.

I love this post you wrote. Love it!