The story is told of a chassid who met with a childhood acquaintance after many years of disrupted contact. “So what is new in your life? What have you been doing all these years?” they asked each other.
“The truth be told,” sighed the chassid’s friend, “my life has turned out to be quite a disappointment.”
“What is the matter?” asked the chassid with concern, thinking that his friend might be suffering from ill health or financial difficulty. “Perhaps there is some way I can help?”
“Oh no,” said his friend, “it’s nothing like that. It’s just… You know, I’ve always believed that, one day, I’ll amount to something. I look around me at the people I grew up with, and I see professors, scientists, artists, writers, politicians, leading businessmen—people who have made a name for themselves. People who are somebody. And I? Zero. Nothing.”
“How I envy you!” exclaimed the chassid. “For thirty years I have been striving to be nothing, and I have yet to see even a glimmer of light in the suffocating darkness of my ego. How I yearn for the day when I can state, simply and honestly, ‘I am nothing’!”
Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber