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This morning I woke up feeling insignificant. I sometimes question my value in this world as compared to people who I know that seem to be setting it on fire.
My self-evaluations can come up short in contrast to those with more energy and capacity. Fortunately, though, this morning the feeling was bad enough that I decided I wasn’t having it anymore.
In the process, I recognized that by feeling like I was better or worse than anyone else, my ego was trying to separate me from the whole. I was seeing life as me against the world, instead of me joining in the feast of life.
A loftier thought popped into my brain; what if I looked at it as if we are all bakers and in this together? The Baha’i teachings suggest that we all have some delicious treat to offer the world, and each person has something unique to contribute to the table:
O My Servant! Thou art even as a finely tempered sword concealed in the darkness of its sheath and its value hidden from the artificer’s knowledge. Wherefore come forth from the sheath of self and desire that thy worth may be made resplendent and manifest unto all the world. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 47.
O My Friend! Thou art the daystar of the heavens of My holiness, let not the defilement of the world eclipse thy splendor. Rend asunder the veil of heedlessness, that from behind the clouds thou mayest emerge resplendent and array all things with the apparel of life. – Ibid.
Now the dish I bake, for instance, might be a fruitcake—definitely not everyone’s favorite dessert! But don’t judge too quickly, because I guarantee that you have never tasted a fruitcake like mine. I don’t put all the neon-colored sugar candies in my loaf. Instead, my version is made with fresh apples, peaches, and lots of walnuts with a cream cheese frosting. It will appeal to some and maybe not so much to others. But it is my contribution to the meal—and I should stick with making what I do best, and to what brings me the most joy.
Create. Not for the money. Not for the fame. Not for the recognition. But for the pure joy of creating something and sharing it. – Ernest Barbaric, “Why I started a passion project and you should too.”
I recently watched a children’s baking competition on television. Each of the children was so excited to be baking those desserts they loved and had grown up learning how to create. To see them cheer each other on in a spirit of joyful competition was precious. Each one wanted to win, but mostly they wanted to play together and just have fun. I thought, wow, what an ideal world it would be if we all went about making our own unique creations with such unity, joy and camaraderie. Each handiwork would be a special offering to the whole, and every contribution would be valued.
As the children’s baking competition continued, I noticed one child in particular whose name was James. James boasted about how good he was. He was consumed with winning as well. The reality was that when the heat (literally) was on, James began to doubt himself and became insecure. Losing sight of what he was baking, in a panic he looked to the other children’s baking stations, trying to mold his dessert to fit what he thought was popular. The result was a disaster. James wasn’t being true to what he loved to make. He didn’t trust himself and his dish turned into a pale imitation of his neighbors’ dishes. In the end, when the other children saw his tears and frustration they came to support and comfort him. James started his dish over but with a new, more humble attitude. He did not brag about himself again, but joined in the spirit of unity and baked from his best self.
My eyes teared up recalling this symbolic display. I realized that my ego separates me from others whenever I start to compare. There is no need to do this, since we all have something no one else can offer. The only way I can fail is if I tell myself that what I have to contribute isn’t good enough.
I realized that I must strive to be uninhibited in my offering to this world and have fun with my creation. I resolved to mirror the joy in my heart and join in loving friendship with all of life’s bakers. My contribution may just be an unconventional fruitcake, but it will be authentic and full of love. Who knows, if you let go of your preconceptions and keep an open mind, you might even find that you like it!
Shed the light of a boundless love on every human being whom you meet. – Ibid., p. 38.
Our planet is in the process of creating one big delicious meal to share together. So what are you baking?