Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm Special! Are You?

I've signed myself up for a once-a-day blogging duel thanks to Blackeyed Sue. I'm shakin' a little in my boots, but I really do want to post more frequently--even when school is in session. So I'm in for the challenge.

On to the REAL post, now.

I was driving down the road the other day, and I had one of those weird "Oh yeah, I'm an adult, now" epiphanies. It went a little something like this: I'm not all that special. I used to think I was the good at a lot of things--monkey bars, reading aloud, ballet, school, writing essays, singing harmony. I prided myself on this stuff. The sick part: I prided myself on being better at this stuff than someone else. Sometimes I still catch myself. But the truth remains--I'm not all that special. There's always somebody better. I'm not as intelligent, witty, I was once certain. And here's the kicker--I think I'm okay with that.

In a world where Dora and Blue's buddy, Steve, speak directly to their viewers and Brittney Spears finds her way into my television, internet homepage, and local news, I'm getting the impression that we are a society obsessed with "getting noticed." YouTube is proof of that. But is this desire for attention merely cultural? Or is everybody simply doing the best they can to leave some type of evidence that they once stood in this very spot, that they exist, they matter, they are special?

All cliche's aside, I'm thinking Maslow for a minute. In Maslow's heirarchy of needs, the basic need of every human being is physical: feed your hunger and your thirst. When that's covered, we move on to safety needs: a warm bed at night without risk of bodily harm. Beyond those two levels, we get to the kicker: Social Needs. Social needs are those of acceptance and belonging. Somebody who wants us simply for who we are. So maybe this desire to be noticed is innate. We're hardwired for it. We want it right after a full stomach and no impending doom. I wonder, however, if we are looking in the right places anymore.

Maybe "the public at large" ain't the best place to be searching for this whole social needs thing. Maybe, and I could just be goin' out on a limb sayin' somethin' a little crazy here, but maybe it is that basic unit of society that seems to be oh-so-easily forgotten. Yes, I'm saying the family. And perhaps some good, close, loyal friends who are a lot like family. Not acquaintances or strangers or someone you'll never win over because the first time you met them you might or might not have had dog poop on your shoe. But your family and close friends.

So, as I was driving in my adulthood epiphany, I acknowledged that all that stuff I used to be so proud of because it meant automatic admiration, wasn't worth beans--pinto, refried, or garbanzo (okay, so maybe I just wanted to say "garbanzo" and "pinto" because we rarely get to share these words in conversation). This stuff I did was great if I enjoyed it for the love of it. But it didn't make me more special than anybody else. Yes, I might have gained some momentary admiration, sure. But the people who sat on the front row when I did this stuff were part of what mattered most. Because those were the same folks that sat on the front row and admired me when I flopped and really sucked at something. The ones who wouldn't laugh unless I was laughing with them.

So, in coming full circle, I guess you could say that I am special. Because I'm a daughter, an aunt, a friend, a sister, a niece, an in-law...and even if Joe from Duluth has no idea how good I might or might not be on a harmonica (which, by the way, happens to be really awful), if I wanted to try to become a professional harmonica player, my cheerleading section would show up.

What about you? Who thinks you're something special? And who do you think is something special too?


Alice said...

Nicely done my friend. Look at you pullin' out Maslow. You are very special, and I am so glad that you are not only my friend, but part of my cheering section :)

Now, encouragement aside, I am going to kick your sorry butt in this blogging bring it.

Blackeyedsue said...

That made me cry. Family is really what it is all about...and a big hunk of chocolate now and then.