We’ve all heard that expression, right? Some days we feel it deep in our bones. Other days it rings false. There’s gotta be more than just surviving, doesn’t there?
So I’m reading Anne Lamott’s latest book, called “Grace (Eventually),” and she has this quote. She says, “We really aren’t all that special. That’s the good and the bad news.” I thought about that. I nodded my head. Yes, I understood what she meant. I’ve lived under the burden of trying to be “something special” for too long. It’s a good thing to be reminded that the world does not revolve around us and our dreams.
Of course, it’s also bad news–if we take it to mean that we have no purpose, no goals, no real love. Indeed, we are each uniquely special, but none of us is more special than his neighbor. Loosely paraphrased, Jesus told us that if you want “to get a life, you first have to lose your life.” That same concept exists in most world religions. We see it most clearly in fiction through the idea of self-sacrifice. We admire characters who are able to give themselves up, or die to a dream, for the sake of others.
Of course, most of us don’t want to die to ourselves and our own dreams. We think–and we are taught in this culture–that we get a life by looking out for numero uno.
I think it’s a lie. A trap. A big, fat hairy mess. Don’t fall for it.
I’m trying to die to myself daily, so that I can “get a life” the way it’s supposed to be lived. It’s no easy task. I’m not very good at it. But I am trying to incorporate the concept into some of my characters, and myself as well.
As I work on my Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy (a vampire story), I can’t help but think about that line: “Life Sucks!” And it seems to me to have some parallels. In my search to understand love and grace and meaning, I’ve come to believe that “the answer dies within.”