Oryoki's House

Where's the Mojitos? I have the guac!

Oryoki Bowl

Oryoki Bowl
February 03
Quaker buddhist, kinda quirky, loves cooking and knitting and movies. Dr Who fan, Scandinavian-aquarian and cat lover. Would love to be paid to travel around the world and write about local healing cultures. While eating and drinking and dancing. One day I will have a health cruise in the fjords.


JULY 19, 2012 4:09PM

I'm special (special), sooooo special (special).....

Rate: 13 Flag

I gotta have some of your attention, give it to me!!!

(Brass in Pocket, The Pretenders)

I didn't listen to the "You're not special" speech, but I have heard about it.  I was listening to a dharmatalk on my iPod today, and it was mentioned in the course of discussing the difficulties we traditionally face in achieving enlightenment, or at least a happier life.  

Some years ago, I picked up a booked called "Nothing Special, Living Zen" by Charlotte Joko Beck.  I admit, it was hard for me to get all of it, and I am sure that  I should go back and read through, there will always be more to sink in. Being No one, Going Nowhere.  Nothing Special.  Who are these crazy Zen people?  Why are they trying to burst my frigging bubble?

I would like to believe that I don't think anyone else's life is more valuable than my own.  Of course, I believe that no one else should think my life is less valuable than their's.  Or more.  Each of us is in this position, it is only unique to ourselves.  What is my responsibility?  Is it entirely selfish, since we are all equal?  Or should it be entirely selfless, since I should care for everyone as if they were as important as me?  

It's hard going these days, and I am certainly extending the boundaries of my compassion.  At least, when I make sure I am.  I have a little more sympathy, I have a little more empathy.  I also feel the need to draw a tighter border around myself.  Protect my free time from the onslaughts of humanity.   I don't feel like an endless fountain of ever giving energy.  I think of the work of the Mother Teresa's and the Thich nhat hanh's of the world.  Well, there have been so few of them, I guess I can just think of them.  No boundaries, no borders, no limits.  No differentiation between self, others, and need.  Serve endlessly to reduce suffering, even if all you have is a hand and heart.  

I am not special, although some people will insist I am.  I accept this, in that I am special to them, and I must respect their need to believe I am.  I have something they don't have, but desire.  It is not always a mutually beneficial relationship, and in learning I am not special I have to also learn that few relationships are truly reciprocal.  When you are perceived as special, people seek you out, want things from you.  Is this an honor, or a burden?  If you have the capacity to be a doctor or an inventor of life saving things, do you owe it to everyone to share that?  

After my accident some years ago, I didn't feel any real anger to the man who caused it.   I had the right to, after all.  He had committed several felonies- illegal drug use, grand theft auto, armed robbery, evading arrest, criminal assault with a vehicle during the course of committing a felony.  I suppose I would have felt differently if I had really, really lost something.  I wasn't paralyzed, my scars were visible but livable, I had insurance, I had a family to help me.  Maybe that makes me special, that I had all those things in place.  Or that I was fortunate enough to not go to the special hell of victimhood.  I had legal rights, police support, protection for those victims of violent crime... mostly, I was really really sad for those who also went through this, and didn't have what I had.  On the outside, or on the inside.  I never sought vengeance, and wouldn't speak of it when my family would get enraged at my situation.  "Why are you so fucking special?" they would ask, that I refused to get angry.  "It must be the medication".  

I had long before learned that getting angry is my choice, mine alone.  It is up to me how much I will or won't respond in rage.  I didn't know it before, and it was hurting me, physically, and hurting those around me.  Now, I will get ticked off, but I first must think to myself "Why is my belief about this situation any better, any more right, than the person with whom I am conflicted?  Are they acting in fear, grief, ignorance?  Am I?" I am not more special, they are not more special.  I learned that there are some people who can get my goat, push my buttons, flip my switch.  I am a little scared of them, I admit, and I do seek to stay away.  I try to send them telepathic compassion, because I won't do it in person.  Other times I wish they'd fall off the face of the earth.  I have also learned that no one really owes me anything.  Not respect, not time, not care.  I can try to earn it, or I can live without it.  

I wonder, really, who are all the gurus I didn't know I had met in my life?  Is my father a guru for dying young, sending me into a downward spiral of despair that ultimately led to my own self realization?  Had he lived, would I have ever learned to not be a reactive, angry daughter of an alcoholic who placed myself into victim situations again and again?  Is my mother a guru, for showing me repeatedly, how the misery of an alcoholic mind takes everyone down- including the alcoholic?  Or that one has to ultimately be responsible for their own health and self care?  Was the man driving the stolen car my guru for teaching me that life is fleeting, at best, and all the plans in the world can change in a millisecond?  I hope he is doing well in prison, I hope he has found a modicum of peace.  I hope his mother feels some respite, for having such a troublesome son.  

I am not a guru, but I am a teacher.  I accept this status within certain boundaries, so that I can allow myself the freedom to not be the teacher.  So that I can also be the student.  Naturally, we can be both, all the time. Sometimes I just want to sleep in, enjoy some tv, and play with the cat. 

I thought about this post, this idea of being special, that has somehow poisoned the mind of so many of us today.  The need to be special, to somehow be more than someone else.  The pervasive perversion of self entitlement, over others.  The need for a constant reward, a word of praise, a pat on the back, a rich dessert, in order to feel whole.  Because we deserve it.  

I was born whole, and it can't be given to me, other than by myself.  So can you.  Really, anyone can do it.  It's nothing special, after all.  



Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
I wish you could hear the applause I'm giving you now.

Finally, an OSer that gets it.

We're not special.

We need to be told these things often because the truth is so unremarkable, it gets lost in the buzz.
Great post. We are all equal; but not the same.
luckily i know i am not special, unless someone says i am,,
and then , after they say it, i come up with plenty
of counterarguments once they are gone.

anger is primal. entertain it, know it, feel it, don't over analyze it.
it can be prolonged that way, i have found.
it is a flare up.
so is joy.
Thanks Joisey. Sometimes I think of the literally billions of people who have come before us and died under all the circumstances they have, the suffering they have endured, and wonder that they are not longer of anyone's consideration or concern.

CC- yes, the truth is so unremarkable. I liked that the Holy Grail in the Indiana Jones movie was a small, simple wooden cup. No gold or glitter.

Joy- true enough, we are only equal through the reality we were born as human. Everything else is up to chance, luck, or something else.
Thanks for this poignant, painful, yet hopeful piece.

I have found over the years that the less special one thinks oneself, the more special things and people one attracts.
Some of the worst times I have in my business are with the monied, Maslow acolytes, self-actualized since the 70's and assured of their "special" nature. Often I find that their brand of knowing who they are is nothing more than a thin veil of worldliness over a much deeper rooted twisted opinion their own value.
I am not special, not at all, to no other then my family and loved ones, and my dogs, which are too family members. Sometimes, I am not special, even to myself. My mother is special, my husband, my health, my working, yes but all in combination of beings, feelings, thinkings. Imagine one being alone and claiming, "oh, I am so special''. Who cares, is my answer to such egoisms, that lack in common sense.

Thankfully, you wrote this excellent work, and said all I had in mind, thank you for this!
"I thought about this post, this idea of being special, that has somehow poisoned the mind of so many of us today. The need to be special, to somehow be more than someone else. The pervasive perversion of self entitlement, over others. The need for a constant reward, a word of praise, a pat on the back, a rich dessert, in order to feel whole. Because we deserve it."

That's a form of slavery that you're never free of. Special is exhausting and the payoff is you stay chained to it.
You nailed it here: I had long before learned that getting angry is my choice, mine alone. It is up to me how much I will or won't respond in rage.

This is such a powerful tool. Bravo to you. /R
Very nice, C, I really liked the part about how you have learned that you control your reactions. For me, that is an ongoing lesson to be learned. RRRRR
There is a lot here to address/comment...and I can't do it in writing (I'm not there yet). I once read a book by psychologist The sociopath next door. The author cited that she believed that 1 out of 20 adults in US could have the label of sociopath. She cites that in other cultures that number is much lower. She theorized that it is our culture of "special-ness" and individuality where the group in discounted as a major factor.
the journey to the pinnacle of personal development offers
us spiritual pride, yet another ego trick.

"What is my responsibility?
Is it entirely selfish, since we are all equal?
Or should it be entirely selfless,
since I should care for everyone
as if they were as important as me? "

You need to develop yourself if u are to be of any use to anyone.

your own importance must be paramount in your mind, for awhile.
having read you a long time, i say; yes, u are important.
to the fulfilling of the universe.
with self-conscious souls attempting the ultimate: selflessness.
it is not something you become, it is what you essentially are.
your 'self' is an illusion built and defended by your ego.
but as you question your ego, you
start the journey beyond it.
but it will ALWAYS be there, even at the top of the world.
hopefully chastened and cleansed...