Wanting To Be Less Important

by Jeff Martens


I want to be less important so that I may have more time.

The busier I am the more important I am. And everybody knows that I am very very very VERY important. Therefore I must be busy. Nobody else can do things as well as I can so I must be busy. The busier I am the more important I am and I am very very very VERY important.

The more important your ego feels or wants to feel, the busier you will be trying to prove your importance to yourself and others. You will be very very busy to prove that you are very very important. And it will never end. You will never be busy enough and you will never be important enough. For just this moment, can you be less important? Can you let go of the striving to be meaningful and significant?  Can you sit in stillness, just for a moment, and surrender the constant struggle to be better than or more important?  Not busy, not adjusting, not fidgeting, just being courageously present with whatever sensation is here. Without trying to get away from what is here or change it or even judge it. For just a moment, can you be open to finding what you are looking for, right where you are?

Once there was a wealthy businessman on vacation in Mexico looking for business prospects. As he was walking along the beach he noticed an older fisherman sitting in the shade of a palm grove tying off the breaks in his net. Every once in a while the fisherman would stop to look out at the water, watching the seagulls ridding the wind, listening to the soft waves lapping the small boat tied off in the tide near the shore.

“Is that your boat,” the businessman asked.

The fisherman looked up from his work and smiled. “Yes.”

“How’s the fishing?”

“It’s pretty good,” the fisherman said.

“Well you should get two boats and hire another person,” the businessman suggested.

“Why is that?” the fisherman asked.

“Because then you culled get more fish.”

“Why do I want more fish?”

“Because,” the businessman said, “then you could sell more fish and get more money.”

“Why do I need more money?” ‘”Because then you can start a new company with even bigger boats and hire more people and get more fish.”

“Why should I start a new company to get so much fish?” the fisherman asked, puzzled.

“Because then you could sell on the international market and get even more money and be able to enjoy spending time with your family and take vacations and enjoy life.”

“Oh,” said the fisherman, smiling. “That is what I am doing right now.”

The businessman, who was very VERY important, shook his head at the ignorance of the fisherman and walked into town to see if he could find another prospect before his vacation was over.

Notice how busy you feel in your life right now.  How long is your “list”?  How many absolutely vital and important things do you just HAVE to do?

Think about it, if we were all really as important as we think we are, then just taking one day off from our busyness would cause the entire world to collapse. Why is it when I am really craving more space in my life, that is when I feel the drive to become busier?  Because that is how important I am, of course. The more important that I think I am, the more I get caught up in the world, proving my self worth by the world’s standards.  If instead you could go to that same world with the understanding that you are already “worthy”, then bliss will be yours. You will not be depending upon the world to tell you who you are, and in that freedom of knowing the whole world will bow at your feet.

I want to become less important so that I have more time and spaciousness in my life.

The world is full of very very very VERY important people. It does not need even one more. Notice those muscles at the base of your neck or the tops of your shoulders. Can you feel how these are very very very important muscles? They are your very important muscles. The more important you are the tighter those muscles will be at the back of your neck. In fact you can gauge how important you are by how tight you feel.

Notice the room around you. What is the most prevalent thing you experience? This entire universe is made of space. If we can’t notice this it is because we aren’t here, for space is all around us. Space is everywhere. It is predominant. Space is what makes the room useful. We notice the things, not the space.  We rarely notice the space that is inside of us or all around us because it is filled to the brim with our own self-importance. We don’t notice it because we are so important, so very very busy. In fact you can notice how important you are by how anxious you feel. The more anxious you feel the more important you are. Now you can be important in two different directions.

You can be important in the usual way where you are so much more meaningful than those around you, or you can be important in the negative direction, the mind does not really care which one you do. And you are very VERY important.  Now if space is so ubiquitous in our lives, why on earth would we not want to comprehend and experience all this spaciousness? Why on earth would the ego perceive space as so much of a threat that we stay constantly busy so as to never experience much spaciousness?

Since spaciousness is always there in everything all around us it must be enduring and is therefore what is authentic. Spaciousness is a realization, a discovery. We re not making space, we are discovering it. Remember that being important doe snot necessarily mean that you are always better and worthy. You can be just as important by feeling miserable and worthless. That is one way to e important, to be worthless. You can be better at being more worthless than anyone else. It does not matter t the ego. The ego likes the ride, it does not matter if the journey is up or down, and you become the motion. The more motion, the more real and very important you must be.

Yoga teaches us that the inverse is actually true. In experiencing spaciousness, there is no motion. Importance and meaning has nothing to do with worthiness or busy-ness. In fact, the more unimportant you think you are, the more significant are the things that you actually do. And they are little things that shine through history, little things done not for importance but in the seeking of the reestablishment of that ever-present spaciousness so that we may breathe and be alive in our lives. A smile at a stranger here, a courtesy offered there, a loving word or hug here… Little actions and personal decisions affecting others in ways that we may not ever know. One day I was driving and feeling depressed about something (and therefore very important) when I noticed a woman walking the sidewalk in the opposite direction looking at the sky with the sweetest smile on her face. That smile changed my day and here I write about it years and years later. Long after I have forgotten about what was so important as to make me feel depressed that day, I remember the energy of that sweet and genuine smile.

Spaciousness does not make people more important, it makes them less important. Feel how much space there is all around you. Take a deep breath and “Haaaa”, sigh the air out of your lungs. Feel the space between your fingers, your toes, your inhalation and exhalation. Space between these letters. The very important person does not have the time to feel such space but you have the opportunity to become less important, and therefore less anxious and tight inside. It is very unfamiliar for the ego to feel this spaciousness so it will cling to the busy-ness because it is familiar. It will cling to self-importance because that is how it relates to the world, how it defines who you are and decides how to try and manipulate and control the world in order to get what it is that you want, which will always be in the future.

In discovering more space we are just recognizing what is already here. How could we miss it? How could we think it was lacking? Space really is everywhere, but we miss it. Therefore we must not be here. We must be somewhere else. Somewhere very important.

I am becoming less important so that I experience more space in my life.

Once you reside in spaciousness  your action is different.  What you are doing is not just another task, or another thing to do to try and prove yourself to the world asserting how important you are to yourself and others.

Actions that arise from spaciousness are an exploration. In exploring we do not know the answers beforehand, we are inquisitive and discovering. When we are very very important we already know all the answers. And our identity depends on these answers being right. Never mind that most of these answers are wrong. Remember that it is a discovery here and now. You will not find it at the end of the day or the end of the week or the end of your career if you can’t find it now. Always looking for spaciousness in the future we will wear ourselves out trying to become important enough to deserve what is already here.

Now the cells in your body are made of molecules and atoms and ultimately space, emptiness, possibilities of subatomic particles. All of this solid body is really just a supposition of organized energy patterns built upon the invisible structure of an emptiness that we cannot fathom.   The more you look at yourself with a high-enough powered microscope, the more space there is. You are just the illusion of busyness trying to matter. Let yourself be a little less important and you will become a little bit more real.

When we are very very very VERY important, this means that we are caught up in the unreal.  Being important means that there are people who are not quite as important as we are. They don’t know as much as we know, they don’t understand as much as we understand, they are not quite as significant as we are. This is especially true if they happen to disagree with us. Being very important can begin to take over every area of our lives. If we are not careful it can even take over our workouts. Did you ever see a very important person working out lifting weights? If you have not seen them then you are sure to hear them grunting loudly every time they do a rep. We all do this moaning and groaning when we talk about the bad things that happened at work, the inconsiderate words of a spouse, or how it is too hot or too cold outside.  It’s called complaining.  We grunt and shriek, whine and moan, Because very VERY important people like to be seen and heard by other very important people.

We all want to be important because we all want to be different, but a difference that arises from busyness is a manufactured difference that is always just a show. In fact such differences make us more like everyone else who is busy being more than or less than others, always complaining that they don’t have any time. Remember that you can be important in your insignificance and unworthiness, to feel different, to feel separate, to feel distinct from others. It does not matter if it is the treetops or the ground. When we forget who we are, our importance and worth depends on doing and proving ourselves. The more important we are, the more busy we are, the more stressed and worried we are. Is that what you really want?

I am becoming less important so that I may perceive more time and spaciousness in my life, which then gives what?

The awareness of spaciousness brings with it the ability to choose. Instead of being an automaton constantly doing and trying to prove ourselves, we can suddenly choose and ask ourselves in our busyness, “What do I really want here?”

“Do I really want to eat in the car?” “Do I want to text while driving?”?” “Do I want to breathe so shallowly?” “Do I really want to be working on emails at midnight?”

No, actually I don’t want to do that.

But you have to, it’s imperative, you are very very very VERY important.

No. I think I am going to go to bed.

So to find spaciousness is to come out of the compulsion of proving. You no longer have anything to prove and your worthiness does not depend on the outside world. As spaciousness you can choose what you want. A critical reaction to our state busyness only causes a further decrease in our perception of spaciousness. When you are very important, you think you are deciding but you are really just a puppet and the world is constantly pulling your strings.

The businessman works long hours and days to take a vacation and live the life that the fisherman experiences every day. Because a vacation is not a place, it is a state of mind. Busyness is often praised as ambition. There is nothing wrong with ambition, but ambition without awareness is mind-numbing.  Often times along the way we forget what it is that we really want. When we forget who we are we just want to be come more important so we can find some kind of meaning. Only in spaciousness can you really feel and know what you want. Otherwise your wants are hijacked by the ego and you will chase after painful things, more busyness, and more importance in a misguided attempt to become worthy or unworthy enough.

Any kind of attention, even negative attention, contributes to our sense of self-importance. How wonderful it is to be unimportant and to not know all the answers beforehand. How liberating to not be responsible for the entire world turning on its axis. Start by being truly responsible for yourself, your own feelings, your own decisions and your own life. Without blame or judgment. Then you can do things in your life with more spaciousness. In stillness and spaciousness you get a chance to be reborn, you get to rise up out of the ashes of your busy self and this opportunity is always there because the spaciousness is who you are.

All action comes from stillness and spaciousness. It inherently feels good to stretch physically and mentally and energetically and re-embrace our spaciousness. You would have to run away from yourself, divorce yourself in order not to feel it but still it is there waiting to reset your nervous system and remember who you really are.