It’s become a bit of a running joke among the youth and young adults I work with. Before speaking once, I was introduced like this: “This is Brenton Dickieson, and he’s going to tell us all why we aren’t special.” Talk about a buzz kill!
But I really think this is one of the most important messages to the current crop of our best young minds. In a world where technology is designed for immediate access, where 34 seconds is too long to wait for coffee, where flying reindeer aren’t cool unless they also have radioactive noses, and the luminous spectres of Drs. Spock and Phil haunt the timorous parenting of a frightened generation of baby-shepherds, every now and then you need to stop and remember: you are not special.
I’m sorry, you just aren’t.
But, if it is any comfort to you, I’m not special either.
Let me ‘splain…No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Here’s the deal. We can’t all be special, despite what TV has taught us. Just sit there for a minute, and try and have an original thought. If it is a good one, google it, and you’ll notice that someone else has already had that thought. See? You’re not special. Someone is smarter than you, more creative than you, faster than you, and, most likely, harrier than you. Someone probably even look like you, except better. It’s just the nature of the world we live in. You aren’t special. When you storm the castle, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll fail.
This is the problem The Lego Movie falls into. Just at the right moment, our hero, the pretty plain protagonist Emmet Brickowski, is told by the prophet (the whipped cream-voiced Morgan Freeman) that all he has to do is believe in himself and he can be the hero of the world, despite the fact that he is really pretty lame.
That works in the movie, pretty much. But The Lego Movie isn’t like real life. This is a good thing because real life would be pretty boring to watch in 3D animation: tying shoelaces, filling out forms, reading my blog…. all boring. But because the movie isn’t real life, “just believing in ourselves” probably isn’t going to be enough to defeat a megalomaniacal genius whose ambition is focussed on destroying the whole universe instead of just inventing a new app and becoming really rich, or finally discovering where Waldo really is.
Instead, let me share a shocking idea. You aren’t special. You may even be pretty lame, at least by the standards of Hollywood, or even the standards of the people around you. But you are something. You are not an anonymous cog in the human machine, or an insignificant molecular conglomeration in the crush of space and time, or an obedient figure in the anal retentive sameness of Brickland. In a world where everyone is special, no one is worth consideration.
But you, you are worthy of all consideration, you for whom all of creation lays its cloak upon the Path. Despite the temptation for the world around you to ensure you are lost in the sameness of specialdom, you have a calling upon your life that makes you absolutely unique in the history of the cosmos. It’s true: you aren’t “the most interesting and important person in the universe,” as Emmett is pretending to be. And yet, because of the Path before you, and the One who calls you into that Path, there is a tinge of greatness upon you, a hint of faerie in the air around you. “You have never talked to a mere mortal,” C.S. Lewis once said.
The ancients called this thing Destiny. The mystics called it Vocation. The Bible calls it the Image of the Invisible God. But whatever they call it, it testifies to the fact that God’s imagination for your life is bigger than your own, and far bigger than what Hollywood can create for you.
Or, if you want, you can just go back to being special like everyone else. It’s your choice.
Oh, and I still think The Lego Movie rocks.