Posted by Simon Parke, 18 December 2017, 5.25pm
When at university, I knew a young man with an interesting ambition.
‘When I walk into a room,’ he told me, ‘I want people to think, ‘Oh, he’s an enigma!’’
I suppose it was his version of the human desire to be original – by being different.
(He may also have been watching too many spaghetti westerns.)
But his attempt at difference is common enough.
You meet a lot of people seeking originality by dressing differently, behaving differently.
We perhaps find our identity in ‘breaking the mould’; in ‘doing things differently to the people down the road.’
It’s our small (and rather insecure) self wishing to cut a bit of a dash.
We may not wish to be an enigma; or, at least, not admit to it.
But in search of an identity, we might seek to set ourselves apart from others in the public arena.
(If you want to get on the good side of a vicar, say, ‘You’re not like other vicars.’)
But as Cynthia Bourgeault points out, being original doesn’t mean trying to be different.
This isn’t the nub of it at all.
‘It means being connected to the origin. You can’t be original by trying to be original.’
There’s something here about relaxing with who we are, rather than striving to be what we’re not.
The desire to be original is a teenage desire; it’s someone finding their feet in the world, seeking identity…the small self trying to cut a dash.
But in the real world, away from our insecurity, originality lies in the silence of the heart, a truly original space – a space in touch with our origins.
In the being stilled lies our originality…as we touch the spirit with which we started out.
Ah, what a beginning you had…