The other day, this woman that I just adore wrote a Facebook status update that made me laugh. She was at the beach, sitting next to a lady who was all done up and was making her husband do lots and lots of things for her - adjusting her footrest, lathering her with sunscreen, shooing him away to retrieve her coffee. This woman's honesty and fervor made me laugh, as did the image her description brought forth. I was happy to pass the laugh along to my friends too, and so I reposted the update.
Moments after I posted it, a friend of mine commented, "What if it was her birthday?" My initial response was one of slight annoyance. Because based on the original status update, I was sure this wasn't the case. I was sure that the post had described an entitled, uppity woman, someone very different from me. Someone so unaware of herself that it was okay to have a quick laugh at her expense.
Then the discomfort came. Because I realized that the reason I reposted it in the first place was because I felt I was better than the woman on the beach. I felt like she was shallow. I felt, with quick certainty, that I knew what this woman was all about. And so it was okay to poke a little fun at her - her, hopelessly unaware, painfully clueless.
This way of thinking has had me a bit concerned for a while now. As I've gained readers, and as the business I'm creating takes flight, I keep noticing myself and how I interact with the world, and I don't always like what I see. Sometimes, I feel better than other people because of my sobriety - they need alcohol to relax...I'm so advanced. Other times, I feel like the fact that I write publicly means that I'm a special kind of writer - braver, more noble. Or that my oh-so-cute clothes somehow set me apart. And sometimes, like today, I think the fact that I apply my own sunscreen and don't have fake nails makes me more real than someone else.
Oh, friends. I can not tell you how humiliating it is to admit this to you. I've so desperately wanted to evolve past this part of my ego without needing to address it here. I just wanted to read the right books, do the right work, and find myself - better and kinder and free of ego - on the other side. More often than not, these feelings of judgment are fleeting - they come in and go out. I notice them and hate myself for them and then keep trying not to have the feelings at all.
But the ego, man. The fucking ego. It's a bruiser. I Tweeted Gabby Bernstein the other day and asked, "Here's what I wanna know: WHY does the ego do what it does? What benefit does the ego enjoy by working to destroy love?" I am desperate to know the answer. The ego seems to be such a wounded presence. It brings no good - only fear and judgment. And yet egoic thought has been my primary thought patterning for most of my life. And now, at 33, I'm starting to really recognize when ego is at the helm - which is, sadly, a good bit of the time - and I'm not down with it anymore.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry I judged your clothes, your parenting, the coffee you drink, your spelling, and the kind of car you drive. I'm sorry I used you to make myself feel better. You are perfect in your holiness and wholeness and I've insulted you with my quiet, wounded chiding.
See, my middle's been covered with so very, very much dirt. Fears and insecurities. Projections and silly expectations. And while I've had lots of tiny cracks in the hardpack, I needed to come here and publicly apologize.
I've realized that I can't go part way down this path; I need to lace up my motherfuckin' boots and commit myself to the release of ego.
We'll all be better for it, really.
I'll feel better because I won't be acting like a jerk so much, and you'll feel better because you won't be wondering if I'm silently acting like a jerk.
I will falter as I learn. The ego will creep in and I'll need to remain steadfast in my determination to both honor it with love, and shove it from the center of the path.
But this much I know: my ego is no longer welcome here.
And to the lady on the beach, I say this: that was for you, too, friend.
Note: I just had my husband read this, and his question was, "How are you defining 'ego'?" My response was, "The ego I'm talking about is anything that isn't Love or a construct of Love." So there it is for you, too, if it's helpful. Love.