So...here’s a thing I’ve been thinking about quite a lot lately: I don’t want to be an expert.
I know. That’s the opposite of what we’re told to want.
It’s hard not to get caught up in it. The message comes at us from a thousand directions. There’s all the books about 10,000 hours and the memes about side hustles and ‘how to be a BAWSE and all the rest. I get it. It’s Capitalism. We’re supposed to be striving at all times to be WINNING.
Honestly? I find the very idea exhausting.
Do I aspire to a certain level of self-mastery? Sure.
Would I like to attain a certain level of mastery within my craft? Most definitely.
Do I want to feel as though I’m succeeding at life in general? Yes, I do.
But...do I want to be your Guru? Hell to the no!
I’m busy learning how to be my own. Which is a lifelong process. And I submit it’s better for everyone if each and every one of us figures that shit out for ourselves.
I believe in the sharing of knowledge and in collaboration because I think we’re better for it. But I also believe in personal accountability and the wisdom of trusting one’s own instincts.
I believe in having standards of excellence. I believe if I’m going to do something, it’s worth putting in the effort to do it well. There is gratification in a job well done. For me, at least.
But I also know: I cannot be an expert at everything I try. And why would I want to be? There is real beauty and magic in being a beginner. There is infinite possibility in being new at something. Perpetually seeking to be the smartest person in the room is a) futile and b) extremely limiting.
As for being the expert: Frankly...I don’t want the responsibility of having to know shit for you too.
That’s your job.
You’ve got to do your own work if you want it to stick. There’s just no getting around that.
YOU are your Guru.
I don’t think it’s wise to put so much faith in people, places, and things outside ourselves. Some? Yes. Should we be open to the ideas of others? Absolutely! Should we be willing to stretch ourselves and have uncomfortable conversations for the sake of growth? Most definitely.
Otherwise we’re living in an echo chamber of self-importance where we’ll stagnate and die, figuratively or literally (in some instances). That’s no good.
We’re pack animals. We DO need to learn from one another.
But...you know what I’ve observed time and again about Gurukula systems, as they’re sometimes called? Someone gets elevated to deity status—usually (weirdly) self-appointed—and a whole bunch of other people get hurt. It’s a system that, like so many others, sounds good on paper but inevitably ends up becoming culty and destructive. Those systems have proven themselves time and again to be toxic. And now they’re toppling. Because people are getting wise to them.
Personally...I have zero aspiration to be that person at the front of the room to whom people are bowing. The only thing I can see coming out of that scenario is my ego becoming enormous and me losing touch with anything resembling reality. I’ve been the person on my knees in prostration. As far as I can tell, the only person to benefit from those actions was the person elevated to Guru. Who...in truth...didn’t benefit at all, because all we did was co-dependently fortify an illusion.
By and large, it’s turning out, I’m not such a huge fan of systems in general. I recognize their value up to a certain point. But then I see how they become rigid and create too much opportunity for corruption, exploitation, and the “othering” of anyone outside of them.
Systems are useful, until they become oppressive. We’re living in a time when it has become imperative to challenge the systems and build something new in their place.
I’m not entirely sure.
I’m not the Guru, see?
But I do believe we have what it takes to figure it out together.
We just need to stay at the table.
Me? I want a place at the table, but it doesn’t have to be the head of the table. I want it to be a round table. I want there to be space for all kinds of points of view from all kinds of people with all kinds of experiences. I want to be appreciated, respected, seen, and heard, naturally. I also want to appreciate, respect, see, and hear people unlike me. I want to be wrong sometimes. I don’t want to be an expert.
As soon as I declare myself an expert, I’m done…I’ve stopped being open to learning.
I never want to close myself off from learning. I have so much still to learn. There is still so much I don’t know and so much I don’t even know I don’t know. Each time I engage in a conversation that stretches me I am enriched. I want more of that. And it’s evident from conversations I’ve been having lately—on Clubhouse and elsewhere—plenty of others do too.
The time has come.
I believe we’re witnessing the crumbling of Patriarchy, White Supremacy, and Capitalism. If I’m wrong you can point at me later and laugh and say, “I told you so.” But I don’t think I’m wrong. I believe this is the last gasp. The world is changing. We have an opportunity to change with it, to help change it faster and for the better.
Considering that...here are some of the questions that have been keeping me up at night:
What happens if we delete the borders, the flags, the nationalism, the existing systems of power...even hypothetically? Even just as a thought experiment? What happens if we erase what separates us, recognize it as illusion, and act as if it doesn’t exist (because none of it really exists)? What can we build on top of the rubble of Capitalism, Colonization, White Supremacy, Othering? Isn’t it up to us to figure that out and make it happen? If belonging is a skill that can be cultivated, what kind of belonging could we create for one another?
What if we acknowledge there are more questions than answers? What if we accept that now is all there is and simply respond to it, in contact, as it unfolds? What if we stop trying to be experts and just BE with one another? What if we don’t have to make sense of it all?
What if…I admit I don’t know how to make change happen exactly, but I’m willing to try?
What happens then?
If you’ve got answers, I’d love to hear them. Hit me up in the comments below.
“Life takes guts. I love your guts.”