A Lot Like You.

Via on Dec 30, 2011

Should you someday decide to write a blog in which you are brazen enough to reveal some of the innermost workings of your heart and mind–and should you persistently keep plugging away at this peculiar and slightly unsavory habit of yours–you will eventually come to observe a fascinating phenomenon. People shall frequently confide that you’ve written something meant just for them at an uncannily perfect time. They may be amazed by this phenomenon.

It happens to me all the time. Do you want to know why? It’s not because I have magical powers or extra-sensory intuitive abilities. It actually happens because I’m not all that special. In fact, it happens because I’m not special at all.

Bear in mind that I’m asking you to hold a paradox. So, yes–I actually do know that you are special. I know that I am special, too. Really, truly. We are all distinct little snowflakes, no two exactly alike. I believe that. I do.

I also believe in a sacred responsibility, and subscribe to Martha Graham’s point of view that, “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it.” Yes!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Sign me up.

However, I am not so special or unique that I could have an experience someone else couldn’t have too. I am neither so gifted and brilliant–nor so crazy and fucked up–that I could feel something you could not feel. My joy is as particular to me as yours is to you but we have both known joy.  My love is not your love but you too will know love. My fear is not your fear but you will know fear. My rage is not your rage. My grief is not your grief but you too will know rage and grief. Buckle up.

There is nothing I could feel that’s so weird that other people couldn’t feel it too. I just happen to write about it sometimes. 

Early in my tantric studies, I learned three seemingly contradictory things from Douglas Brooks (The genius is his and the clumsy applications are my own):

  1. I’m not like you.
  2. I’m something like you.
  3. I’m nothing but you.

Until then, I’d spent most of my life peering through the not like you lens. I felt different. Mostly, I felt like a freak show–alienated and alone. I felt too little, or too much and too deeply. Or, so I’d thought. Other people couldn’t possibly have the same emotional capacity. They were not like me. I was weird. Special. Being special sure can be lonely.

When I got vulnerable enough to speak some of my weirdness out loud, I learned that everyone else is just as weird as I am. I’m not all that all alone. In fact, I’m actually a whole lot more like you than I once realized. Like the clown says, we’re all just a bunch of bozos on the bus. When we share things in common none of us can be all that all alone. Hmmm.

So, am I special? I sure am. How wonderful! Hurray!

But am I really all that special? Nope! What a wonderful paradox. Huzzah!

Are you special? Hellz yeah! How wonderful! Hurray!

But are you really all that special? Not on your life! How paradoxically perfect. Huzzah!

Get right down to it and–as carbon based life forms–all humans are made up of exactly the same elements on the periodic table. That means that at the most elemental level we are the same. You are nothing but me. I am nothing but you.We are nothing but each other–bet your sweet ass on it.

When we’re special, we get our individuality as a blessing. When we’re not special, we get our humanity as a blessing.

We are all these things all the time. You don’t have to be special. You can just be human. You needn’t try to be different. You can just be another bozo on the bus. That’s perfect too.

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About Bernadette Birney

Bernadette Birney is a dyed-in-the-wool, freedom-loving tantrika. When she’s not busy conquering the world, taking hostages, feverishly freelancing, working on her book, and posting on-line essays, you can find her practicing the art of life-on-purpose, and teaching in Connecticut. / Bernadette has had the good fortune of studying with the great ones: she’s a certified Anusara yoga instructor, and has long pestered her Rajanaka Yoga mentor, Douglas Brooks. Known for her poetic and precise articulation, she insists that you can maintain a hard-core yoga practice and a sense of humor, too. Her classes, immersions and trainings are steeped in a life affirming philosophy that will invite you into the exploration of your own potential. / Bernadette was one of the earliest Certified Anusara yoga instructors in CT, and continues to mentor the local teaching community, leading trainings and retreats. She has contributed to Yoga Journal, Fit Yoga, Elephant Journal and Srividyalaya Amrta. She is also a Lululemon ambassador, and the author of the quirky, award-winning blog berniebirney.com .

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5 Responses to “A Lot Like You.”

  1. At the risk of being redundant, this *did* speak to me and at just the right time! We must be a lot a like (but not too much.) :)

  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Love it.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.
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  3. Joe Sparks says:

    The differences, which do exist in the behaviors and functioning of humans, are cultural, are learned and acquired characteristics. Any human being, given the opportunity, can acquire and master the same culture and skills which any other human being has been able aquire and master.
    Our thinking has often been distorted amd limited by the illusion that we are living in a stable society.

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