Each of us is special and each of us is non-special.
Think of yourself as one of 11 roses in a vase. It cannot be made a bouquet of a dozen without adding another rose, so the 12th rose is special. Yet, it is non-special because it cannot be the 12th rose without the other 11. Therefore, each is the 12th rose. Each is the special rose.
Each of us is unique. Others perhaps look like us. Talk like us. Walk like us. Think like us. Behave like us. Dress like us. Have the same beliefs as us. They are not us, though. Therefore, we are one of a kind. Special.
We are as the flakes of snow that fall to the earth. They all originate from the same place. They all arrive at the same place. They all look the same, yet each is different. They are alike, yet unalike. Thus, each flake is also one of a kind. Special. Just like yourself.
Many of us have issues of self-esteem. Society has convinced us that we are not the right shape or the right size. We are not attractive enough or intelligent enough. We are not strong enough or we are not creative enough. So, we tell ourselves that we are not special.
For example, I met one such fellow not so long ago. He was an engaging young man, but very much down on himself. He didn’t have confidence in the things he said, the things he did, or the way he looked. Everything he said was almost apologetic, unlike his female companion, who was not a self-doubter. More to the point, she was probably too sure of herself.
“Why do you sell yourself short?” my friend Brian asked the young man. “You’re a great guy.”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I just do.”
“That is wrong-thinking,” I told him. “You are like the snowflake that falls to earth in August. You are that special and that rare.”
This seemed to catch him off-guard. He took a step back and looked at both Brian and myself, almost as if he couldn’t determine if we were flesh, blood and bones or a mirage. Clearly, he had not often been spoken to in such a positive manner.
“Thank you,” he said softly. “I needed to hear something like that.”
At different points in our life, we all need to hear something like that because it is true. Each of us is special and rare, like the snowflake in summer. We must view ourselves this way.
We tend to regard our professional athletes, movie stars, rock stars, artists, etc. as special. We look at those such as Mozart, Rembrandt, Hemmingway, Shakespeare, Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Sinatra, Streisand, The Beatles, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman and others and say they are special. That, too, is wrong-thinking. Does the celebrity world not seem like a lawless frontier at times? When we consider the unlawful behaviour and the sometimes ignoble lives of many of our celebrities, we recognize that they are not so special. They are as flawed as you and I. What they have is a special skill, but they are no more special a person than yourself. They would not exist if you did not exist to read their books, listen to their music and attend their concerts and games. Their special skill would go unrecognized. Thus, they are the 12th rose and you are the 12th rose.
Bill Gates and other extremely wealthy people donate millions of dollars to various charities and foundations. That’s wonderful and worthy of our admiration, but it does not make them any more special than yourself. Would you not do similar good deeds if you had their bank accounts? Indeed, many people of low-to-middle income set aside a portion of their earnings each month to provide for food banks and the needy. Their kindness and generosity does not add up to millions of dollars, yet it is of no less value to the single mother who must feed her children with goods from a food bank.
Placing the label ‘special’ on another is an iffy proposition.
For example, in my youth we regarded the parish priest as special. He would sometimes come to our home and break bread with us. It was a special occasion. It was like having Jesus sit at our dinner table. Yet we now know that many parish priests across the globe have been guilty of dreadful, horrific atrocities against altar boys for many, many years. Priests are special, yet non-special.
The golfer Tiger Woods would be another example of exaggerated loft. He has a special skill/gift for golf and he has great wealth. But he is also a notorious philanderer. That is how many women view him. As a philanderer. A man who cheated on his wife a great many times with a great many women. So his skills make him a special golfer, yet he is non-special as a husband.
Many people have special skills. Many people perform special deeds. Many people say special things. But because you are not a fabulous singer or a brilliant writer or you are unable to win The Masters golf tournament is not reason to think of yourself as a less special person.
You are the snowflake in summer. You are the 12th rose that completes the bouquet.