Perhaps that's part of why the movies about heroes sell so well—while we watch them, we get to taste the most under-utilized aspect of what we ourselves are. —Tröma Rigtsal Rinpoche

So if we are neither special, nor ordinary, what are we? Mostly, what we are is confused. We are confused about our proper role in the world.

We know that we aren’t really special, because we recognize that we are essentially the same as everyone else. Although we secretly hope and suspect we might be special, we cannot figure out what our special role should be. We seek obscure omens and chase tentative possibilities, but they shift about and peter out. We recognize that people who present themselves as special are actually on harmful ego trips.

Yet we also know we aren’t really ordinary, because there are moments when we recognize our vast, unique individual potential. No matter how hard we try to fit in, we secretly know that our innermost possibilities do not lie in going along with society. People who present themselves as ordinary are pretending to be herd animals—but no one is really fooled.

The problem is that we see no third possibility. So we jump back and forth between trying to be special or ordinary. We try to find some sort of compromise, or some way to be special in one part of our lives and otherwise ordinary. Mostly we try to bury the issue altogether, because it is so uncomfortable. But spiritual practice, life crises, and moments of grace keep bringing it to the surface.

There is an alternative to this confusion—one that is genuinely available, unlike specialness and ordinariness.