One of the biggest struggles I have is feeling like an unimportant human being. I am awfully good at using stuff: food, water, air, space, time, money, coffee, beer... I can consume like no other. But when it comes to producing, to being useful, it's a stretch to think of anything that I am Vitally Important for.
I have always had a philosophical problem with the idea held by some people that my worth as a person is warranted by my offspring. As if by raising the next generation of "world changers" or giving birth to the future Dalai Lama I will somehow make up for being born myself. Since I was a small child I have felt an almost desperate sense of Needing to Be Important. I want to be the world changer, the Dalai Lama, myself. Anybody with a uterus can crank out kids, and some of the best people in the history of the world have come from the worst parents, and vice versa, so I have a hard time swallowing the thought that my redemption comes through the Mighty People that I have borne. Motherhood is a high calling, and for most of my life, it remains true that if I am necessary anywhere as a human being, it is in this capacity. Not because I am raising the next president of the United States or the future Miss America, but because I am raising human beings, and like me, and like you, they need love.
I have always yearned to do more, to be more, to be Necessary, on a less biological and instinctive scale. I am necessary to my children because nature dictates it. If I do my job well, at some point I will not longer be necessary to them at all, and then I have succeeded in producing something. Lord willing it will be something good - four something goods - so far it seems like it might work out. But when that project is complete, where is my place in the cosmos? How will I then become necessary again? And to whom? Or do I get parked in the junk yard with the other broken down unnecessaries that haven't found a permanent place for when they're not dead yet?
I want to be Unequivocally Important in this life. I want people hanging on my every written word, and lives radically changed because I am there to make a difference.
Romantically, I am not necessary to anyone. As much as I want to be the last thing Some One thinks about at night and the first thing that Some One reaches for in the morning, I am needed by no one. I have made the foolish mistake a thousand times over of falling in love with someone, allowing them to become "necessary" to me, when I am nothing but an option to them - if that. No one person needs me at the end of the day to tell their stories to, lean their head on, wrap their arms around. I am no body's best friend, confidant, lover, resting place. And no amount of needing from me makes me necessary to them. It's like an empty sucking vacuum in space. It's survivable, but it sure isn't fun. Which begs the question - what is actually necessary? It feels necessary to be loved by one person above all others, but time has proved the sad truth that it isn't. It feels necessary to be touched, and adored and heard and known, but again, no one I know is dying of singleness. It feels like dying sometimes. Like being buried alive. Romance isn't necessary.
But Love is necessary, and it goes on in spite of the pain, or loneliness, or the feeling of NEEDING that pervades everything. Love isn't the thing that you get from someone else, the touches, the feels - it's the thing that you give. We are all programmed to think that love is something we receive from the outside in, but the reality is that love comes from within us as whole human beings. And for all of the feeling needy, I have a lot of love to give even when it doesn't seem like it's coming in from anywhere.
Love is the thing that makes me necessary. It's the Thing of Vital Importance that I have to give the world. I am not building skyscrapers or raising people from the dead, but I am necessary in the choices that I make out of love every day. I have learned this from the people who have given me love and met my needs, both accidentally and intentionally. The big hug. The hand on the shoulder. The cold beer, or $20 to help out. The phone call out of the blue or random act of kindness. The George Baileys in this life that have given up their big suitcases to take care of a community, and the Father Darlings who have packed their dreams into a drawer to only look at occasionally in exchange for loving a family. The people that have saved my life by just Being There, by telling me I am Worthy, and I am Strong, and I can move ahead. These are the things that I have received and the things that I can give that might make the difference in the day or the month or the year or the life of a total stranger or my best friend. This is necessary.