The Myth of the Special

The ordinary, so looked down upon with almost contempt, is in fact our greatest asset; it alone can form the level unbiased base for free inquiry and perception. Those whose natural home is the commonplace may without searching for it stumble upon a distinction that those who think themselves special can never know.

We habitually seek fulfillment in the personal, our individuality battling against everyone else’s but it’s a struggle that we can never ultimately win. We may find that on the contrary it’s the impersonal that has real lasting strength, a strange and unexpected invulnerability, not through defense but through a permeability of spirit that passes through and away without friction, leaving nothing to be defended.

Ironically it’s the lack of individual striving – which doesn’t mean complete passivity – that is an effective if indirect force for achievement and contentment.

Striving for achievement is in reality counter-productive; in seeking lauded outcome as a consequence of our actions our thinking too becomes mechanical. The very search for distinction is a species of mediocrity itself.

The self constantly urges us to seek the special, the unique possession or memory we can hold as defense against the boredom of the everyday. The paradox is this search debases our value as independent creative beings making any worthwhile achievement less likely.

A telling symptom is the wish for something for ourselves that we don’t for everyone else, not just material objects but more abstract possessions like “enlightenment”. An everyday and quite mundane lifestyle is our greatest gift but we debase it every time we fall into the trap of the special.

Understanding as art and science