A Jewish Rabbi once said
A person should carry two stones in a pocket at all times,
On one should be inscribed
“i am but dust and ashes” and on the other
“for my sake the world and all that is in it was created”
and each one should be used as needed.
I have been pretty much captivated by this thought for most of the week because it seems as though everywhere I look, people are holding on to the wrong stone, listening to the wrong internal voices. They’re not the only ones… I do it too.
I wasn’t a popular kid. I had a circle of friends – mostly other good kids from youth group. I wasn’t a rebel (though I did experiment with tobacco in the school grounds one time), I was never much good at breaking rules and the popular kids seemed better at that than me (short skirts, anyone?).
Yeah, not popular.
When you live in that zone you blossom at every bit of attention from someone in the popular crowd even though deep down you know it’s stupid to care that much about it. When you live in that zone you tell yourself that the reason you’re not popular is that you actually aren’t that special and you don’t deserve it…
Then you leave the school yard, and you find yourself in a much bigger social circle, and while the challenges of navigating a new social scene remain similar it’s a little easier to find your niche in a different crowd. It takes a while, because the underlying self talk still gets in the way, still sabotages you from time to time… But as you get older you realise that everything is meaningless… particularly where it relates to what people think and you just put your head down and do your thing, you’re much more comfortable being exactly who you are and the people who don’t get that can go get jumped on, because really… who cares? Maybe you’ve started to figure out just which stone to apply when.
I feel like I have.
So fast forward to now, and here I am standing up in front of a crowd, they’re enjoying what I have to say, and they approach tentatively afterwards to talk about what they’ve heard… and it’s then that I hold the stone that calls me dust and ashes. Because this distance between a speaker and a crowd is bullshit. This ‘famous’ thing is meaningless and it isn’t fame… or popularity, or being in demand that’s any kind of important… and while it’s nice to be in demand let’s be real, it is here today and gone tomorrow. It is meaningless*.
But then there are times, when I’m standing on the precipice of something awesome, when there are new possibilities opening and new friendships, a change, a challenge, an opportunity and if, while I stand there I’m holding the ‘dust and ashes’ stone I’ll be quite likely to shrink back… thinking that there could be no possible reason something this good, this scary, this massive could be being laid out for me.
Which is also bullshit… because, ‘the world and all that is in it was created for me’ – and why, on earth, should I consider that I am undeserving? I’m no less deserving than you… or the person next to you. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and so are you. You deserve EVERYTHING, love, laughter, passion, adventure and joy. I deserve it. We all do.
And yet we still tell ourselves that we are but dust and ashes and we sabotage such things before they even begin.
Which stone are you holding right now?
And Is it the right one?
* I am at risk here of going off on a whole tear about this stupid media fuelled obsession with fame – and all these people who are no more important than we are that we look up to, that we freak out if we see them in the street and we clam up if they talk to us. How we react in the company of such people says way more about us than them… and those of them who hold the ‘i am but dust and ashes’ stone who are the ones we should aspire to mimicking… not those who wear fame thinking that the world and all that it contains was created for them…