Dear You,

You don’t matter.

I know I said I wasn’t going to hit you with that right away because it’s not what you want to hear, is it? But I felt we should get to that quickly, because… the problem is, it’s true.

I don’t want to hear about how you can’t quit coffee, or how you aren’t aligned with your chakras, or how you are trying to hold space for me right now. I don’t want to hear about how you are manifesting a boyfriend or a career or a smoothie for yourself.

Would you quit making it about yourself all the time?

You don’t matter. And neither do I.

Who does matter, then?

The other guy.

Sometimes I get the sense that the greatest irony of the self-help movement is that if you really want a better life, it probably won’t happen only from helping the self. I think the ‘You’ that doesn’t want to hear ‘You don’t matter’ is the ego-driven self, and the best kind of help for it would be a swift kick in the ass as it lingers by the door, trying to convince you that it is important.

If you close your eyes, you may be able to see it standing there, telling you that you’re not good enough, or talented enough, or deserving enough. It’s telling you these things because that’s how it stays alive, and you feed it by continually going over your own stories in your head. That’s been my experience, anyway, and as far as I can tell, the only way it can survive is through your own thinking and thinking and thinking about you.

So maybe it’s time to get over your self and push it out the door.

You have so little time here on the planet. It is so precious. So precious. Do you want to spend it thinking about your self and how Kevin doesn’t like you ,or how your mother never will, or how Jessica is lame, or whatever your story of the day is?

No one truly great is remembered for what they thought about themselves or did for themselves. Yes, we are society committed to recitation of individual statistics and accomplishments, but the truly great are remembered at kitchen tables, in bars and on subways, and in the everyday talking between people, for what they did for their country. Or their team. Or their family. In essence, they are remembered for what they did for the other guy.

And they are remembered for what they DID. That’s the important thing. That’s love. What you do.

The beautiful thing is that what these great people do for others feels good to them, too. It feeds their spirits and souls and fills their everyday lives with meaning. It’s like a letter written to someone expressing love that fills the receiver with light: that letter is written for the sender, too, and the overall beauty out there is raised up a notch because of it.

I was in New York recently and saw a toddler walk up to a homeless woman who was crumpled up against a building. The little girl had a bright pink jacket on and held a single dollar in her hand, and she sort of stumble-walked over to the broken-down woman and held the dollar out to her. I didn’t see a parent around, although I’m sure someone was there somewhere. All I saw was this small child, holding a dollar bill out to a street-stained woman who looked back at her with an expression that was at once incredulous, stunned, and grateful.

I looked away before the dollar bill passed from one hand to the other, because I wanted to keep that last image burned into my consciousness.

I will remember that child forever. And it’s not because she was manifesting something for her ‘self.’

It’s because she did something for the other guy.

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