I remember in high school being quite taken with the not-quite-so-authentic-or-inspired lyrics of Avril Lavigne:
“I want to know that I
Have been to the extreme
So knock me off my feet
Come on now give it to me
Anything to make me feel alive
Is it enough to love?
Is it enough to breath?
Somebody rip my heart out
And leave me here to bleed
Is it enough to die?
Somebody save my life
I’d rather be anything but ordinary please”
Like I said, not entirely the most inspired bit of song writing ever penned to paper… but it encapsulated a desire that was beginning to pressurize in my chest; a desire to do great and extraordinary things in my life.
An excerpt taken from my daily journal around this same teenage-time reveals my own, modest ambitions towards achieving greatness:
Sept 16, 2002
- President of the United States
- Prime Minister of Britain
- Be knighted
- Win at least two Academy Awards for Best Director an Actor
- Win a Tony Award for Best Actor
- Win a Nobel Peace Prize
…the list went on from there with at least fifteen more items of a similar nature. Although I am relatively confident that my fourteen-year-old self was cognizant enough to realize that A) Several of the items in that list would be tactically impossible due to different laws and regulations, such as nationality; B) Would take multiple life times to fulfill, if at all; and C) Would require substantially different skill-sets and life orientations – and yet, I am not so certain I was fully aware of the unfeasibility of such.
The craving within me to achieve something “Great” was profound beyond measure. I recollect lying on a heap of crumpled comforter, on the floor of my parent’s master bedroom at sixteen, having my first-ever legitimate panic attack due to the fact that should have already attained something publicly noteworthy and profound in my already advancing years of age.
Long story short: I was a nut-job, hellbent for glory, and totally disconnected with any deep sense of self-worth.
I wanted the profoundly extra-ordinary to manifest in my life and convince me that I was merely good enough.
Sound like a current President we all have the misfortune to be currently acquainted with?
At that time in my life, I really did not have a lot going on to teach me my inherent worth. I had few (if any) real friendships, I was scared of most everyone I encountered, I was bullied horrendously, I was totally disconnected from my sexuality, and so repressed that I considered myself “broken” because I could not feel what other normal teenagers felt. I felt really worthless.
And I wanted something glorious beyond measure to tell me I had worth – because I could not find it in myself.
And so, going to college shortly thereafter, I decided to become a professional actor – because assuredly Hollywood and the thundering applause of a raucous crowed would give me that fulfillment. And, if it wouldn’t be tangibly possible to attain all of those checkpoints on my high school to-do list, at least onscreen I could play a President, King, Physicist and Astronaut and achieve some feeling of that attainment.
Well, life, as she has a way of doing, has kicked me in the gut and pulled the rug out from underneath me, knocking me down, enough times since that point that I began to question that longing. Why did I want to be a movie star? What was I afraid of in starting to date other people (something I did not attempt until I was twenty-five years of age)?
Long story cut very short: I eventually started to develop sincere self worth. I started to learn my “size.” Learn to know what I had to genuinely offer and what was mere aggrandizement. I started to genuinely connect to who I truly was, what I wanted, and what I had to give.
A large step in that process for me was discovering meditation. I truly credit it for giving me my life back. It taught me to start removing the layers of facade I had unintentionally fabricated, to uncover my truest self beneath.
And – it simultaneously connected me with the mystical – the ethereal – and the divine.
I moved into a meditation ashram right after college – where I learned that I was “special.” I had unique karma to encounter this practice. I was blessed. And that I had a chance to go beyond what normal humans experienced – and live a life that was truly “extraordinary.”
Wait… Sound familiar? … somehow I traded one dream of self-aggrandizement for another.
In hind sight, I do see there was a dangerous mentality to the tradition I entered. A promise of specialness. A guarantee of life being more than normal humans (outside the practice) could understand. And that gave me purpose and a feeling of divine grace.
And then, as all false-idols must, my sacred imaginings shattered to the ground. The leaders that promised this mystical and otherworldly ideal were revealed to be more human than they presented themselves to be.
And I ended up parting ways from that tradition – heartbroken and distraught. But still much more alive and authentically myself than I encountered it, thanks to the still-excellent teachings I received.
But in wake of that leaving, I once again have found that craving inside me to be “extraordinary” resurfacing.
Now, I no longer want to be a movie star, or famous, or a figure of social importance. I actually now desire the simple things: a loving home, a gracious partner, good food, sturdy friendships.
But there’s part of me that wants something so much more – something that I am now beginning to call a connection to the divine. My experiences in the ashram started to illuminate some glimpses of that for me.
And if I am totally honest with myself – that longing for something more than what we associate “normal” to be – is indeed a spiritual longing.
A desire to return to a state of pure-bliss, pure-awareness, pure-truth that the ancient rishis and “seers” have articulated existing within each and every one of us.
That the longing for the “Extraordinary” is nothing more than a longing to return home – to my Soul.
Spiritual traditions across the globe have articulated that the Earth is just one place conscious beings reside – and that there are other places that we might be more akin to. That we are “spirits having a physical experience.”
My question is now for myself: how can I truly appreciate and relish the ordinary – while striving for the extraordinary within me – and not through outer glorification?
How can I cultivate the magic, love, light, and prosperity I feel in glimpses in my meditation in the rest of my waking life?
How can I live a life fully empowered, aware, enheartened, and steadfast?
How can I live in truth?
These are my current questions. Questions to which I am unsure there are solid answers.
What do you think? Please share your insights and inspirations below!
Namaste, Kaelan 🙂