Column 36 Published in the October 4th, 2016 issue of the Warroad Pioneer
It has always felt special to live at The Angle. Special to live out in the woods by choice. Special to have left the mainstream and followed a tributary “up” into this flat-mountain wilderness. Special to have chosen a lifestyle defined by hard work that doesn’t include an office chair and a commute amongst a literal million other dread-filled commuters. (‘Cuz I’ve been there, done that, and subsisting as a number in a giant system does NOT feel special. Believe me.)
It feels special to drive these winding roads, dodging early fall’s caterpillars, sunning snakes and night-blinded skunk carcasses that claim this season as the best one to suddenly need to cross the road.
It feels special to chuckle at the Big Foot crossing sign and wish for its truth with an innocence that remembers anything is possible.
But…I’ve recently learned an important secret. A secret about Big Foot, gravel roads, me, and everything:
I’m not special.
I wasn’t in the big city, and I’m not now.
The Angle isn’t special either – even though I’ve spent the last 35 columns trying to convince myself and everyone else that it is.
This thing I do? Writing about where I live and how I live my life here? Nope, not special either.
It is here and beyond that exists the population of people that even the conservative Republican media identifies as deeply discontented, “those who feel left behind by a changed economy and shifting demographics.”
This misunderstood group of people—I feel different from them, but I’m not, so I’ll lump myself in with them—who eschew government handouts in favor of hard-wrought independence, see ourselves as “above the below and below the upper,” and are likely feeling less and less special these days. Our reality, a self-created caste system of sorts, was all nicely ordered to our liking and now…well…it’s apparent that we’re not really “above the below” anymore.
Our country doesn’t celebrate us anymore. And it’s pretty much impossible to live the “American dream” of yesteryear, where everyone stood a decent chance of living comfortably and maybe even getting rich if you worked hard enough. Generation after generation of working until our skin split hasn’t gotten us anywhere, so long as we’re measuring “anywhere” in terms of fame and fortune.
And that’s probably where the current ire comes from. It used to at least be Something to make a living with your hands, off your own sweat, working longer than sun-up to sun-down at whatever job needed doing, fixing whatever broke along the way, all to feed and shelter a family you were teaching to appreciate the same values.
Life felt purposeful, special when you worked hard in hopes of not having to work so hard.
But hope, as a capitalist concept, has most definitely faded.
This could quickly turn into a political discussion, but that’s not my goal. And that would be far beyond any productive point anyway. This is not about our next leader. This is not about immigrants or refugees or the disenfranchised finally having a voice and a national stage, much to the dismay of all those who have stayed within their own defined moral centers.
No, this is about spirit, about soul, about separation from God and the transformation it’s gonna take to remember the Truth.
As I wrestle my way down this very bumpy path towards Truth, I must next tackle my insatiable need to feel special and come to know how truly damaging it is to myself and everyone around me.
Call me callous, but I have no plans to try to reassure these amazing neighbors and friends that they’re special. Cuz they’re not. We must wake up to the fact that none of us are special. I know this bucks at everything we’ve been taught our entire lives, everything we continue to teach our children, everything the holy books teach about their “chosen” people, everything new age spiritual self-help tells us to make us feel better about our meager lives … but, it’s just not true.
Here’s what I’m learning about “specialness.”
Being special creates a definitive (sometimes subtle, sometimes overt) feeling of superiority. For example, a large percentage of us believe that one country is superior to another and thereby so are its people and thereby so are its peoples’ beliefs, values, civic systems, and so on and so forth. We start to feel justified in small attacks and then bigger and bigger attacks until we are in outright war. See the history of the world.
On a personal level, our ego’s need to feel special puts us in a position of automatic comparison and then judgement and then justified “attack” on that which is beneath us. It creates a lack of trust in everyone and everything but ourselves. We have substituted our own specialness for our ability to love our fellow humans. It is only the special who can have enemies, as A Course in Miracles teaches.
Being special cannot bring peace or joy of any kind because it is the absence of love. And since only love can point to the Truth, if we want to wake up, we must accept that we are NOT special.
Sure, I want to see my beautiful little three-year old daughter as a special light above all the others in this world. I want to look at this chosen home, The Angle, and declare it special, better than other places, and in fact, I smugly have done just that in past writings. I want to think of myself as something different than the average Jane.
But I want peace more.
Those are desires of the ego. I would be a slave to that specialness and its maintenance for the rest of my life. A Course in Miracles teaches that the special ones are asleep, surrounded by freedom, peace and joy they cannot see. “They are lost in dreams of specialness.”
Right now, I don’t know how to keep writing about The Angle without the belief that it’s special. But, I have a feeling and a hope that its true beauty will open up to me because in not making it special in my mind, I will finally be able to see it for what it really is. From the caterpillar’s transformational journey to the reeking skunk carcass, perhaps the whole world will open up in The Angle.
Big Foot and God, included.