Wednesday, June 27, 2007
SO YOU THINK YOU'RE SPECIAL? well, so do I!
I'm going to take a crack at this. What do I know? Not much, that's for sure. I just have a feeling about this, this idea of special.
Ok, I'm going to start with this very daring statement: I'm special. I'll say it again: I'm special.
Now I'll put that into context. I'm not alone. I think everyone is special; I think all life is special.
First off some people will say that everyone can't be special, that it undermines the meaning of the word. That if everyone is special then no one is special. I used to buy that. Not anymore. Life is special. Being alive is special. The gift of life is special. That's that. To paraphrase Camus: there are two kinds of people; those who know they're special, and those who don't.
Now could I be dreaming? I don't know. But there is more. In a funny way I've already defined special: being alive. But I'll say this; it is not the same as important, and I'll explain why. For starters, I don't think I'm more important that anyone else, just so that is clear. Period. I feel special with all my being, but I don't feel important. I believe special is a private thing, an innocent thing, a state of being. Important is relative. A matter of degree. Some things are more important, less important, it depends. It is comparative, even competitive. Not so with special. Nobody talks about special that way. Nothing is more special, or less. If something is special, well, then you can't take that away from it.
Or can you? So before I go too far I want to say that this is why I'm writing; I am making a case that this is a battleground. That not only is the world divided between those who know they are special, and those who don't, but that those who don't wage war against those who do; that they want to take special away from everyone.
How often do you hear someone say in the most glowing and positive terms: so and so doesn't think he's special(that's why he's our guy--team player). And likewise, those same people will say in the most accusatory way: you think you're special! See, it's bad. Heaven forbid that you should think you're special! Every chance they get, those people will try to take special away from anyone and everyone.
DON'T EVER LET ANYONE TAKE SPECIAL AWAY FROM YOU(or, as Patrick Swayze said: nobody puts Baby in a corner!)
Special is a state of being. It is spiritual. It is spirit. It is your spirit. When they talk about breaking a horse they say that you want to break its will, not its spirit. This is important. So often in our quest to break the will, we break the spirit instead, and the will gets stronger while the spirit disappears. Spirit and will are like love and lust. They sort of look the same, BUT THEY ARE NOT. Special and important sort of look the same, but they are different in the same way. As different as night and day. Now I know some of you don't feel special, hate special, can't remember when you felt that way, if you felt that way, when you lost it. Get it back. Take it back.
Special is spirit, not will. It does not try to prove; it just is. Will is all about proving, about fighting, about competing. Will is ego, and ego seeks to rise. These two things are often confused. Those who don't know they are special are generally threatened by special and sense some ego greater than their own that they must destroy.
Preserving one's innocence, one's spirit, being special, is not easy. It is not supposed to be. It is a challenge. One must also be wary of those who would seek to take it away. One must stay focused on the spiritual, the special. Do I have the answers here? Not at this time. Maybe never. But I do believe that along the way, we are all tested, sometimes from all sides. This is a road we walk alone much of the time.
And now I will talk about this in terms of art, in terms of being an artist. After everything I've said, maybe you already know exactly what I'm talking about in this regard; maybe you already sense that yes, some artists are all spirit, and some are all will, though most are probably some of both. Yes, there are artists who for all of us stand for this idea; artists whose work was more special than important; artists more about light than muscle; artists more about being than being important; more about spirit than glory.
Which explains why children seem so natural when it comes to art. It seems to just happen. Everything they do turns to gold. Yes, innocence, spirit, special, even happiness all seem to go together for children. And then, after a while, as they get older, it gets taken away from them bit by bit. First family and then school makes them have to prove themselves every step of the way, compete, and with each step they lose their innocence, their spirit, and that feeling of being special. That feeling of being special gets traded in for feeling important, superior, like a winner, like they are on top, and when that is complete all innocence is lost.
Which also explains why Matisse is so beloved, or E B White, or the Beatles. Each of them touched the innocence in those who feel it inside themselves. It is something we preserve. It is something we keep. And some of us, when we know we've lost it, do everything we can to get it back. We spend time with children, animals, we garden, we dream, we make art. Yes, maybe I'm dreaming, but I don't think so.