Ego Vs. Selflessness
(first written 10 years ago)
I woke up this morning and read my obituary. No-no, it's not quite the way it sounds. What I mean is that symbolically I decided to bury my ego last night, and awoke to its death this morning.
I'd like to talk about that process for a minute. It's not really something you can do overnight. It's not like you can wake up and it'll be gone.
I keep wishing I could see my obituary in the paper. This desire has been going on for some time now, and I think it means I wish I could die and be someone else. It means I wish I could bury this person who has this ego and be someone who doesn't notice herself so much all the time.
But this ego was given to me when I was a kid. It's not something I woke up with one day clinging to my back. I had so many people when I was a kid telling me that I had something, or that I was something. My father's last words to me when I was 14 and he was dying were "You look so pretty today."
So I don't see this huge ego—that tells me I have to BE someone—as being all my fault. But it's there, and I'm the one who has to deal with it, right?
Nobody should be given the idea that they're going to be great someday. It made me feel like I didn't even have to try. It's not called giving someone confidence. It's called giving someone unreal expectations. It's something I felt was gonna happen no matter what I did. I had it and people would just naturally see it.
But they didn't. They don't.
And I have to face it. I'm not that "pretty." I'm average. A lot of people have told me that they know my twin (four times at one convention). So thanks, Dad. I could have used some other final words, you know.
I have this attitude that it's me who's important and not anyone else. So I'm here today to bury the "I" and focus on the "U". The U that is all of us. I want to focus on how we can go about doing that and become a better in the process.
I always thought of myself as a good person. I always thought people liked me. I thought I was likeable. But I find myself at age 68 facing loneliness due to friendlessness. I thought that if I moved, I could be happy somewhere else. But I cannot move away from me.
The change comes from within. You know, you hear that all the time. The change comes from within. Well, great! Wonderful! Whoopee! They don't tell you how to do that, though.
I'm going to try and see if I can make it work for me and if it does, I can share it here. How? I versus U.
You know, I was gonna start this with a little grammar lesson.
I and U are so far apart in the alphabet. It seems they never hang around together at all. And I comes before U in the alphabet, so doesn't that prove that we always should put ourselves first? Because if we don't, who will? And there's a lot that comes between I and U – there's J, K,L – etc. Just like there's a lot that comes between people and keeps them from communicating. You can't put JKL together and make a sentence. All you get for a vowel between I and U is O. Oh. But the words joke and poke – they both need an E.
I have an acquaintance I'd love to be friends with, but it's not happening. I think we have a lot in common but for some reason she keeps herself at a distance from me and I don't know why. I thought it had something to do with the distance between I and U in the alphabet. I couldn't think of any words that used the two letters together, next to each other.
But I was driving one morning to a location on my GPS and I did at double take at the street name. Muirwood Drive. Muir was an environmentalist in Wisconsin awhile back. And that name, with the UI together like that, is one of the few instances where you see the use of those two letters together.
Notice the U comes first? Because when we talk about the environment, it should never be about ego – it should always be about Us. I love synchronicity. This word, Muir, is very symbolic of what we're talking about here.
It seems we all say "I" very often. I did this. I went there. How many of us in our conversation say "You did this" or "you went there"? We can't speak from the perspective of U. We can only speak using our own eyes, what we witness. And that gives "I" its importance.
We don't have to take away the importance of "I" to get rid of the ego. But we have to recognize the times when "U" is more important.
"I want to do this" has a totally different connotation that "U want to do this."
"I am right" is diametrically opposed to "U are right." Do you see how much better you feel when you recognize and concede to someone else's opinion? Can you see how much better you make them feel?
We may ask others to apologize but how often can we say "I am sorry."
The use of I means that we are not intimidating to U. It's about feeling good – and who should feel good. Do we claim that right, or do we give that right to someone else?
That's what we're looking at. We're looking at how to make U feel more important than I. And that's the whole basis of being a better person.
One way I'm going to suggest doing it is keeping Muir in your head. He asked us to remember the environment, and the environment is for all of us. Not just me.
I only means me. It is a very self-centered position. The more you use "I", the less people will listen to U.
But let's get to a lesson in using U. Say you're sitting at a bus stop. The bus doesn't stop. You stand there saying "Hey, I'm right here. What are U, some kind of jackass? Why didn't U stop?"
That's placing the blame on U. Now try placing it on I.
I didn't wave at the bus. When I saw it, I stepped away from the bus sign toward the place where I thought it would stop, but as I did so, the driver saw me only as walking away from the bus stop and figured that I saw it wasn't the bus I wanted.
I was at fault. I can't blame U.
See how that works?
The next time you think life is all about I, trying thinking about all the other people in the world. U and I might just get along a little better that way.