Do you remember when you were a kid and you were made to believe that you were special? That you could be anything you wanted? That, if you put your mind to it, you can do anything at all?
I think a major source of depression these days is that fact that we were told all these things only to grow up and find that you’re not special, and that your opportunities are limited as are your talents. You can’t do anything you put your mind to because there are things at which you suck. Even practicing a lot won’t do much. There are things you totally suck at and would lose many contests in.
Put me in a chess tournament and I’d have my ass handed to me. Put me in a karaoke contest and I’d do well, but I wouldn’t be at the top. Tons of people love my guitar playing, but truth be told, I’m not very technically proficient and could never play as well as Steve Vai. That’s not being negative, that’s being realistic with myself.
The problem is, as kids we were pretty much lied to by well-meaning adults who thought they had to develop our self-esteem. That we had to feel like we were special in order to have any self-love.
Hell, my mom used to tell me that I was destined to be a leader of my generation and I went through a good portion of my life thinking that everything was going to fall into place because it was my destiny. But, reality always wins in the end.
I’m ordinary. I’m just another person. I’m not special. How deserving I am of love and respect depends on how I treat others, and is not something I’m automatically entitled to as a birthright.
This flies in the face of everything we’re taught about how we should perceive ourselves. But the truth is that we’re just human, and we’re fallible and messy and none of us are saints. We fuck up a lot. We also do some really amazing things. We’re capable of a lot, but none of us are capable of anything we choose. A clumsy person without a steady hand can never, under any circumstances, be a brain surgeon. We do have limits, and all the happy, reality-denying fluff talk won’t change that.
It often comes as a slow shock to us. We keep finding that the world isn’t fair, that some powerful people have stacked the odds against us, and that we really don’t create our own reality.
I used to believe that we each totally created our own reality and I’d try like hell to levitate something or teleport or even make some outcome I desired to come to fruition. Yet, the only time anything worthwhile ever happened is when I took it upon myself to make it happen. Sometimes it didn’t work out, sometimes it did. The results are always mixed.
I thought that I only couldn’t levitate things because my limiting beliefs were in the way and I just had to get clearer. But, no matter how “clear” I believed myself to be, it wasn’t happening. Interestingly, the authors of all those books that tell you that you create your own reality are in the same boat. The only times you hear of anyone levitating anything are un-corroborated stories of some guru from India, yet we never see it for ourselves.
If the author of The Secret slipped from a ledge, there’s nothing she could do but fall. She can’t create a situation where gravity doesn’t work. She could have all the positive intention in the world, and she will still go splat.
Though our intention can focus our minds, that’s all it can do. It doesn’t make something from nothing. It doesn’t do anything for us. We must make the effort for anything to happen.
Being realistic is not being negative. To say that we are limited by gravity, for instance, is simply an undeniable fact. Nothing anyone says or does will change it. That’s not negative in the slightest, it’s simply true.
In the same way, saying that we are not special and that we can’t do anything we put our mind to is just as factual and just as lacking in negativity. It’s not fatalistic or despondent or self-defeating. It’s just how things are. No one can do everything they put their mind to. But, we can still do a lot.
The secret to happiness is first realizing that you won’t always be happy. There’s no such thing as a state of perpetual happiness. Life has its ups and downs and sometimes they’re intense. It’s only appropriate to be shaken by them sometimes.
We must simply accept our ordinariness and the fact that we change as we age. Our bodies get looser and things like eyesight and hearing get worse. Even if we take really good care of ourselves, our bodies will wear out.
We make happiness happen. We create or find situations that please us. We get together with people we love. We study that which interests us. We get good enough at the things we do have talent with that we can bring some goodness about. Sometimes things will not go as we’d like, and sometimes there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. All we can do is affect what we can and every once in a while we do really well.
Most importantly, we combine our various mixtures of talents to create some really cool stuff. That’s when humanity is at its best. We really can do some awesome things when we put our minds to it…we just can’t do absolutely anything.
Plus, understand that nothing’s permanent. One good thing about the New Age stuff I used to be into was the Zen Buddhist tenets of non-attachment and impermanence. Everything fades, so expect it and prepare for it. Your accomplishments, your relationships, your hair and eyes, your belongings, your job, your friendships…all of it will pass. None of it is forever.
So, enjoy what you can while you can. Make the most of the better times. Make better times happen when you can. After all, none of it is coming to you out of nowhere and you’re not even entitled to it. You either create something enjoyable, or you don’t. It’s up to you.
The problem is, we all grew up with these fantasies and when we start to realize they aren’t real, we go and create more fantasies. It’s why movies and shows and books and religions and self-help seminars are so popular. We live vicariously through fiction, and we want to believe that we can have any adventure or that we’re special or chosen or saved. Nope, we’re just human. What you see is what you get, but you can be creative and inventive with it. Just know what’s fictitious or fantastic and what’s in reality. I think that a great many mental/emotional disorders (those that aren’t chemical in nature) stem from wanting things to be other than they are.
Yeah, sometimes life is harsh and there is no justice. You either make do or not. Shit gets stolen or broken, people get hurt. Other times, things work out and we’re ecstatic. Either way, life is indifferent to us. The universe is not plotting against us or setting things up for us. We move under our own steam and create whatever we create. Hopefully, we create things that benefit each other and bring some joy into this world.
© 2015 William Suphan
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