To be passed over is not a pleasant experience. It’s a bit like those moments where you stand in a group waiting to be picked by either team leader for some game or other. Some say our feelings in that kind of situation have more to do with ego than with anything else. I wonder?
Sure, ego wants to shove itself forward, but one has to be able to sift ego from a genuine desire for significance and acknowledgement. There’s a difference between brash egotistical assertions and the simple right to be acknowledged – the right to be here.
The modern passion for seeking out and identifying our roots has much to do with plotting ourselves and our significance in humanity’s impersonal sea. Watching the British TV series Who Do You Think You Are?” brought this home to me.
In search of their roots, each participant was profoundly moved as they became more and more aware of their own origins. Not only were they able to plot themselves, but the discovery of their roots had a profound effect of bringing strength and coherence to their identities. They seemed also to become far more grounded and earthy in attitude. To see Jerry Springer go through this process in one of the episodes was deeply moving. The experience must have had a profound effect on his life and I’m sure he would be the first to acknowledge that.
Unfortunately many people move through life without any real sense of their “right to be here.” Through actions, speech, and disposition, and in a myriad of other ways, they always seem to be apologizing for and excusing their presence. Somewhere deep within them, voices shaped by historic pain continue their protest against their very existence.
Sadly, certain forms of spirituality tend to perpetuate this by teaching that spirituality is not only concerned with our unworthiness, but also only with the realms of non-physicality. Spiritual leaders from these traditions even go so far as to say to their followers that they don’t really belong in this world, that they are citizens of some unseen reality which has nothing to do with this world, which, by the way, is looked upon as being essentially evil.
All this is taught in spite of the fascinating genealogies found in those great bodies of religious literature which have everything to do with charting and locating human identity and grounding it both individually and collectively in the earthiness of life and place.
One of the greatest gifts we can offer each other and ourselves is the gift of grounding and recognition. In receiving this gift we become more secure, present, focused, and dynamic. We find our centre, and standing firmly on our own two feet, we are not overwhelmed by the world of daydream and fantasy.
There’s a saying that goes like this: “The mighty oak was once a little seed that simply stood its ground.” Should this not become the experience of us all?