Friday, September 28, 2012

Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Ego



We are living from the center of a deep cavern. Call out your name and the walls always echo back “I.”

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During the teenage years the human ego is hammered into form like sheet metal. This is a troublesome time. Every word becomes a clank of iron, every morning is a strike to someplace deep within the ribcage, everything hurts. The word personal takes on distinct color and texture. Like blue glass, how easily it can shatter.

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Say ego over and over in a nasal voice, dragging out the eeee, and it will sound like a siren, like a warning, an opportunity to grow alert. EEEEGOEEEGOEEEGO. For extra points, stretch your arms out like airplane wings and run around your house in circles.
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Watch animal egos on National Geographic: fuchsia bowerbirds dance for mates, rams’ horns lock bone to bone, alpha dogs bear their slick teeth. 

The female ego is much craftier—she deals in pushup bras and skinny jeans, glossed in Sephora and wrapped in a half-smile, full lips bearing bleached teeth that will speak words like knives.

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Until recently, my Facebook picture was of me in a yoga pose, an arm balance with Nevada mountains, red and heaping, in the backdrop. It’s your typical “modern yogic” Facebook photo: the body is wrangled into an inversion or arm balance (that looks like a break dancing move, as a friend commented), gazing sagely off-camera, taken outdoors (favorite yogic settings are the beach at sunset or mountains) as if to exhibit a oneness with nature and therefore the universe, as if to impress all my Facebook “friends” with how super Zen and super fit I am, because Zen and fit are synonymous in yoga culture, totally, in my ass-huggin' $80 Lulus, y'all.

My picture was less yogic and more egic. It was not taken whilst in the midst of sweet meditative bliss. Fuck, it was taken specifically to post on Facebook. (Does it get more egic than that?) But a picture of me sitting quietly on the floor with my eyes closed is not nearly as cool, right?

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Song of Myself, or How to Sing Your Ego: Stand tall and, in an operatic voice, bellow with a rise and fall: Me me me me me me me me meeeeee. Extra points for wearing a monocle and cummerbund.

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A gleaming, salivating eye like a cleave of garnet, that blood jewel. That evil eye.

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King of Sabotage, thwarter of inner peace, Buddha’s biggest, most badass contender underneath the bodhi tree.

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For the Self-Help section: The i-dentity is both our way of seeing and what we end up seeing, too. We are the protagonists of our own minds, as our daily dramas unspool before us.

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When I am in a rush in traffic, I get mad at the cars driving, godforbid, the speed limit. I go crazy. This is my ego flaring up, insisting that my plans are somehow more important than anyone else’s. The selfish kernel in my solar plexus.

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I can smell your ego from here. It has the sharp smell of salt brine, the sick smell of whiskey. You’ve insulted me, and you’ve hurt my ego; I’m insulted. My skin smells of brine and whiskey, now, too.


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Ego: I have declared war. A peacable one. I will send you out breath by breath. In great waves you will leave my house, I will open the windows and you will fly out in the gust of wind as my ribcage expands and contracts.

It’s nothing personal.

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We are living at the center of a cavern. Not alone. Our egos and body and hearts are like tiny drop of water in the welled water of the cavern. When a rare few call out their names, they hear the echo back, “Us.”