THE COLUMN

Issue No. 68/May 25, 1996


NOTHING MATTERS

IVAN HOFFMAN


There are times in our lives when it appears we choose to do things that do not matter. It seems that we try to take the easy road and not challenge ourselves. It isn't the easy road, not by any stretch of the imagination. It is a road filled with hardship. And yet we do it anyway. We choose not to matter. It seems that at these times we are afraid to matter.

By "not matter," what I mean is that what we are then about is not what we are truly about. We do not reflect the true heart inside of us. We are treading water, it seems. The challenges that we seek to avoid during these times present themselves as heart signs. These signs feel like that tugging inside our souls that tells us "something's just not right here. I'm not happy. I have things and people but well…something's just not right."

These signs, that tugging, that road that we do not choose to follow, is God talking to us. At least that is how it has appeared to me in my life. When I have chosen not to follow the road, my heart, I have not been happy. To be certain I had things, and people, but I was not happy. I was not living at a heart space. I was living in a shell, a cave, a place that did not challenge me to stretch and become more. They were not me, or not me at the deepest part of my heart. They were me but in a different space. It seemed the easy way. It was very hard each day, however, to live the easy way.

Perhaps we live this way because we are not certain about who we are and do not feel powerful enough in our lives to take risks. Perhaps we live this way because we lack a sense of self-love and internal worth. If we had these, we might be willing to expand the definitions of who we are. For that is what it is, you know. Living without mattering is really about not being willing to redefine who we are. That heart tugging is God trying to get us to redefine ourselves. It is better we feel, to live narrowly if unhappily than take a chance and redefine ourselves.

It is disconcerting stuff, being undefined. We have been taught that we are this or we are that. This or that can be an occupation or it can be an internal definition of who we are. We are pretty or we are not. We are loving or we are not. We are smart or we are not. Somehow we get to that place where we believe these externally-defined definitions, even if they are about defining ourselves internally. And when we get so vested in these definitions that they actually become who we are, we seem to lose the ability to let those definitions go. We become afraid to take a chance and redefine who we are. Or might be. No matter how much we want to do so. No matter how much we want to matter.

So we stay stuck with these "it doesn't matter" categories of ourselves because it is safer than finding something about us that actually matters. Perhaps we fear that if we found out something about ourselves that actually matters we would have to change, we would have to stretch to reach this place. We seem to be content remaining miserable inside the "it doesn't matter" category and feel the pain in our hearts. Down deep we have a sense that we know we matter more than we allow ourselves to but we are afraid to break out of our defined definitions and take ourselves for a "spin," try out other parts of ourselves.

We may be afraid that if we find out who we are, we may have to give our hearts to ourselves, open ourselves up to uncertainty and the pain that goes along with it. So we content ourselves with the other form of pain, the pain that comes from knowing we matter but living as though we do not.

It turns out that one way to get to the place where we are living as though we matter is to believe that nothing matters. From the point of view of our destiny, of reaching spiritual intimacy, enlightenment, nothing matters. Nothing that happens to us, not relationships, not "success," nor "failure," not anything, none of that matters because everything is only really about growing. And if everything is only about growing, then no matter what happens in real life, it does not matter. We can not lose. We cannot fail. The only thing that matters is that we grow. If we believe that nothing matters, then we can allow ourselves to matter.

So if we allow ourselves to matter, we may discover something about ourselves we previously only felt inside our pain. In order to begin to believe that we matter, we must be willing to test ourselves. We must be willing to sail around the world, write that book we have wanted to write, follow our hearts, dance a new dance.

Of course it is scary. And painful. But we may find that our new dance may be one we should have been dancing all along.

© 1996 Ivan Hoffman

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