Being a Nobody

Illustration by Kate Gillett

 "Worthiness is my birthright."
- Brene Brown

In a small nowhere town of Myanmar where tourists usually come by for just one or two nights, a week has passed and I’m still dodging geese and goats on my bicycle searching for a perfect cup of excessively sweetened tea. I’m failing terribly to tick off the sights of Myanmar. I’m like the strange duck that sunk to the bottom when everyone else floated off downstream. Even now they’re taking in the pagodas of Bagan and the lake town of Inle while I’m still working out whether I’ll have a puri or a roti at the local teahouse.

This is the twelfth month of my deliberate unemployment and I’m still not very good at it. I’ve persisted in having no less than seven interviews for jobs I don’t want. Each time I tumultuously loop through near paralytic emotions of fear/doubt/guilt and a desperate need to cling to all that is familiar and socially approved. To the exasperation of recruiters, after completing this exhausting circuit I return to an inexplicable but predictable decision that I don’t actually want a job. Any job.

I’m doing something far more important right now.

I’m learning to be nobody and to do nothing.

In my race to be someone, I previously rushed over what I am, an almost criminal neglect for I was born an animal to this earth and evidently that comes with an incredible built in heart. Somehow I got it all tangled up. I thought I had to DO something to earn my worth and demonstrate my right to be here.

I didn’t realise that nothing I could build, make or do would ever be as precious as what naturally overflows when I come into stillness and rest and come to completely inhabit my own nature.

As it turns out, when left to its own ease, my heart is a boundless and infinite expanse. It streams with an indefatigable compassion that applies its balm of caring to soothe even life’s ugliest and most brutal wounds. A wizened wizard lives there, humming quietly with a gentle humour and holds out a hand to receive whatever I have with a benevolent, warming love. There is a joy that erupts from some nameless place, teasing out all my shame and all my world-weariness with such lightness and deft touch. Most profoundly of all, like a glass goblet filled to the brim, the unfathomable balance of equanimity allows everything to be poured in yet never runs over.

This is who I am when I do nothing, allow myself to be nobody. 

There is no success and no accomplishment that will ever measure up to the immense beauty of who I am at rest. No relationship, no parent, friend or lover, can give to me the unconditional love that is already present in my heart. Their love is but a tributary that can lead me back to this source.  There is nothing to do, nothing to strive for, nothing to be.

So am I learning do nothing, and to be nobody. It is the most precious thing I know. 

With acknowledgement to the very friendly Burmese geese


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