“Look for simplicity. Simplicity always holds the key you’re looking for. And that key… it opens the door to wisdom.”~ Sydney Banks
I recently returned from a conference, where a talk I heard unlocked in me a deeper understanding of the notion of ‘fitting in’ that might ease your mind, too.
The conference was exploring the insights of Sydney Banks, an ordinary man by all accounts (he hailed from Scotland; was a welder by trade) who, in the 1970’s, had a spontaneous, profound awakening to the nature of the human condition. Such was the magnitude of his realisations that 50 years later, practitioners like me are helping others to have an easier experience of life by sharing this simple, powerful understanding, any way they can.
A bit like we do here, each month.
The conference speaker’s inspirational story related his refusal to be ‘put in a box’ against the background of a lifetime’s feeling like he never really fit in. Black, brought up in the projects of Birmingham Alabama, reluctant gang member, subsequently a serving military man, his background could not have been more different from mine, and yet I couldn’t help but resonate with his ‘outsider’ story.
After a brief flash of guilt—what possible claim could a white, middle class, male make, to feeling like an outsider?!—I allowed my thoughts to play over my past anyway and was surprised to uncover that same feeling of ‘not fitting in’.
Never part of an ‘in’ crowd as a youth; not taking the recognised path to higher education; feeling like a misfit at medical school; and never like a proper surgeon, because I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my outside interests, I left… drifting from one occupation to another, never feeling truly at home in any.
Back in the room I realised that even here, surrounded by my colleagues and friends who shared this same, all-encompassing understanding, I still had experienced suspicions of my ‘other-ness’ – I was rubbish at small talk, I didn’t share the understanding correctly, I’d never be truly accepted into the community…
And then, looking around me in a mild, cold sweat, it hit me. We all feel like this. Without exception.
If we’d paused proceedings right there and then and asked “Who sometimes feels like they don’t fit in?” every single hand in that auditorium would have gone up. Because each and every one of us—regardless of background, skin colour, education, religion, position or prosperity—has moments when we’re terrorised by our own thinking.
Thought, by its very nature, temporarily creates the impression of separateness, one of the symptoms of which is to feel like we don’t fit in. Ironically, beautifully, this very fact unites us all in our shared humanity! At this simple level, none of us is an outsider. We are all exactly the same.
This stark realisation dissolved the insecure thoughts I’d been feeling and dropped me straight back into the here and now, with the speaker, my fellow humans and feelings of oneness, community, and love; all the symptoms of a tranquil mind.
So next time you feel like you don’t fit in, see that for what it is: a passing thought, that has only as much power as you are willing to give it. Why not turn your attention from it, and instead allow yourself to experience life just as it is, now, where we are all united in our shared divinity; that place we call ‘home’.
Which is the very essence of Sydney Banks’ insights that I had come to the conference to explore.