Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Would You Just... Eat That Cake?

Self worth is something I've struggled with for most of my life. As far back as I remember I always felt that I needed to be a certain way to feel worthy, that I needed to win something, achieve something, change something. If I could make people laugh then I'd be liked at school. If I could prove my intelligence then I'd be accepted at family gatherings. If I could say the right things about football then I could make my dad happy again.

As I grew up I think this mutated, whether because of bullying, acne, or any number of other things, into the feeling that I had no worth. That I never said the right thing. Never did the right thing. Never looked the right way.

Part of me knew that this feeling was stupid, and I didn't share it with anyone else, kept it hidden away, pretended it wasn't there. But deep inside, I felt it.

That monkey mind that chatters away every instant, measuring and labelling the universe, trying to make sense of it, had a million solutions over the years to this feeling of inadequacy. All involved changing some fundamental thing about myself, if I could just figure out what it was. If I could just get rid of the acne... If I could just learn to stop making dumb jokes all the time... If I could just be more fashionable... Just be more mindful...

But here's a truth I think I'm only recently beginning to understand. People with a healthy sense of self worth simply feel that they are already good enough.

They don't feel good about themselves because they look beautiful, because they say wise things, win competitions, because everyone loves and worships them. They just feel content in being the people they can't help but be.

There's a Zen saying that goes something like: "In the realm of spring nothing is better and nothing worse. Some branches grow long, other grow short. All are perfect."

Each of us has a role to play. Who knows what is ultimately right and wrong, what is good or bad? Where's the use in fretting trying to second-guess a universe that provides us no answers?

Who you are right now, clumsy, wide-thighed, with weird elbows, greasy hair, getting sweaty when you start telling a joke and forget the punchline, never coming top of the class, not quite understanding the definition of capitalism -- that person that you never asked to be, can do nothing to change -- that person is as beautiful and deserving of love as anyone alive. Love is not something to be earned. Like existence itself, it is something there under everything. You just have to pay attention to it.

There's nothing passive, nothing namby-pamby, about this mindset. Winning is still nice, success is still nice. But it's icing on a cake. Great when it's there, not the end of the world when it's not.

If you are reading this then you have your existence, you get to be here, for however long, on a planet in space with trees and books and oceans and the swaying music of nature wish-washing out of your window every night. Who cares if the icing is lumpy or even not present? There's so much cake. Go out and stuff your face.