February 13, 2008

Leggo my Ego

EGO! Up it pops. Strong little bugger, too. I feel it pushing me around, strengthening embedded tendencies, building the walls in the maze too high to climb over. Where do I find it but in my interactions with others, including my writing, which I had been warned of.

I meet with many people throughout the course of the week – mentors and teachers, colleagues and associates, bosses and classmates – but rarely friends. I find personal stories and anecdotes infiltrating what should otherwise be business conversations. This is acceptable to a degree, but lately I find a greater sense of urgency, almost desperation behind them. That’s when I realize, among all those people I see on a weekly basis, there are very few who are simply friends. Generally I consider them all friends, but they are more as well; they each have other standings, responsibilities, and relationships which must be considered.

I realize that it has been a very long time since I had anyone I could just talk to, instead of having a meeting agenda. I want something from them and they want something from me, and none of it involves simple companionship. There is no one in my life just now who knows everything which is happening. We all tend to have someone like that, first our parents, our best friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, roommates, etc., who simply know on a day to day basis what is happening and about whom we know the same.

So I feel the push to compensate in my more formal relationships with others. I compensate in my writing. Things start getting twisted. Authenticity shrinks. I begin to feel a need to fill the gap by drawing others in. If I am just interesting enough, witty enough, insightful enough, someone will find something in me worth building a relationship on and we can become genuine friends. It is a very strange and unsettling feeling. Especially at a time when I am personally feeling very fulfilled, when my work is really starting to mean something to me and I can feel myself building a positive future.

I feel it when I meet with my editor, Chuck. (Who is one of dozens of people I suddenly find myself surrounded by who is too young to even come out for a drink with me. That was a surprising revelation.) I feel this urgent need for affirmation. I feel a corresponding need to prove myself worthy of affirmation. I can feel that showing through my work and I am dissatisfied. Suddenly it is no longer about process or authenticity or fun, it becomes about result. I have always believed the means to not justify the ends and this is no different. Intention matters. Contrivance is ego.

I read some of my earlier work, for this summer when I was at Shambhala. That situation and this situation are polar opposites and I think it shows. It is interesting to note the impact. It is interesting to watch my mind adjust and my ego scramble.

Do I love the mountain center so much because being provides a constant reaffirmation?

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