In the German language, the word ‘wichtig’ means ‘important’. Also in German, the word ‘Gewicht’ means ‘weight’. There is an interesting linguistic correlation between ‘importance’ and ‘weight‘. What this suggests to me in this context, is that the more ‘importance’ we assign to something, the more ‘weight’ it carries and the more ‘weight’ it also places on us. This holds true for self-importance and for the importance we place on other matters as well. Importance is ‘heavy’. Importance is ‘ballast’. More often than not, importance is the surplus weight that prevents us from taking off, the extra ballast that prevents us from soaring.
Importance is a very NON-liberating attribute. In my own life experience, every time I assigned too much weight or importance to something, whether to a project, a goal, an item, a concept, a paradigm and especially to myself – it almost invariably backfired, eventually making me feel limited, imprisoned, exhausted, drained, isolated and often even ‘betrayed’. ‘Importance’ is a weight that slowly consumes us, holds us captive and limits us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, even physically – a ‘ball and chain’ of our own choosing (or making). The weight of ‘importance’ can often turn into addiction, and then the consequences are far worse. We become blinded to everything else except to the weight we choose to carry and throw around, desensitized to everything except for the idealized ‘object’ on which we have concentrated our assigning of ‘importance’.
Self-Importance is no different, essentially. Once the seeds of self-importance are planted and watered, they start to grow and snowball, virtually making us into something else, transforming and ‘mutating’ us, eventually generating an Alter-Ego exclusively dedicated to support and feed this new All-Important persona (most likely accompanied by an equally All-Important ‘mission’), a devoted carrier of an increasingly heavy and all-consuming weight. It is a destructive process, gradually eating its way into the deepest levels of the core of who we are. As the increasingly unbearable weight of Self-Importance devours our essence, we gradually loose control of what we have created and the transformed and mutated ‘important’ persona takes the helm. Ultimately, self-importance remains the only ‘trading tool’ we are left with.
As one example among many, the ‘importance’ and the ‘weight’ of the ‘One Ring’ are what turned, transformed and mutated Sméagol into Gollum:
“The thieves. The thieves. The filthy little thieves. Where is it? Where is it? They stole it from us. My precious. Curse them, we hates them! It’s ours, it is, and we wants it! We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little Hobbitses. Wicked. Tricksy. False.”
Also consumed by Importance?
The following lines are also quite revealing…
“And when you loose control, you’ll reap the harvest you have sown. And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone. And it’s too late to loose the weight you used to need to throw around. So have a good drown, as you go down, all alone, dragged down by the stone.“
With all this being said, it is not the purpose of this post to imply or suggest notions such as ‘nothing matters’ or ‘everything is in vain’. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s not what we do, but rather how we do it and the importance/weight we attach to it (and to ourselves). Thus, in principle, two different people may appear (to an outside observer) as doing the exact same thing, when in fact their inner mental attitudes are quite opposite from one another. One may be worried, troubled and crumbling under the weight and the importance of completing his task, while the other one may perform the exact same task with a lighthearted and detached attitude, without assigning excessive importance neither to himself nor to the task at hand.
This reminds me of an ancient Eastern saying, which is quite reflective of what I have set out to convey here:
“Before Enlightenment – Chop wood and carry water.
After Enlightenment – Chop wood and carry water.”
To conclude this short post, I hope this has been useful to possibly inspire some contemplation on the ‘heavy’ topic of importance and self-importance.
Travel light 🙂