Letting go of the ego is a tricky thing.
That little ego keeps popping up with its tiny voice when I least expect it, and surely when I least want. It feels like letting go of the ego is not something to do, but rather a non-doing.
The ego and what she wants is curious, reflecting back.
My tiny 10 year old ego wanted the silliest things. xtremely sick with pain, fever, I suffered for months on end in the hospital, yet all of my friends and family would tell me how great I looked. Experiencing extreme pain on the inside, “I”, or my ego, wanted people to see the pain I felt.
I wanted the pain to be visible on the outside.
No one would ever wish for a deformed face, but yet here I was at the age of 10, wishing for some external sign that I was hurting inside. When massive doses of steroids (prednisone) began to take effect and distort my face and body, my ego was satisfied.
Moon face? Yes! A little hair on the sides of my face? Ah, perfect. Distorted belly and skinny limbs? Perfect.
I was grateful to no longer look like every other healthy, normal 10 year old.
That destructive little ego…oh how fickle it is.
As I grew older, the medicine wreaked havoc not only on my physical self, but my emotional self as well. Aside from typical nasty emotional swings as a result of taking prednisone, self image issues came to the forefront. Still, the outside world only told me of my external beauty.
There was great fault in this for my unstable, wavering ego.
From one day to the next, as the ego does, she wanted different things. Rather than listening to the inside, I was taught like the majority of society to pay close attention to what lay on the outside.
It took years of journeying and ego-destroying experiences to let go of my attachment to the physical.
In my mid-20’s, a few years after leaving Western medicines behind, my face changed shape. I no longer had round, puffy cheeks. For the first time I could see cheek bones. Hooray!
Or so I thought….
Shortly I began to travel, a time which provided fertile soil for my soul to find its way closer to “self” and away from ego. I spent a lot of time doing simple things; experiencing, playing, learning, be-ing. Focus on the external diminished. In fact, there were barely any mirrors where I traveled for over a year, so I had very little idea what my body looked like on the outside, but rather how my soul and spirit felt on the inside.
I was completely glowing and shining.
A few months into my travels in Thailand I remember a few Thai women commenting on my face; I wasn’t sure what they were talking about, because they were not speaking English. I had to look in the mirror. “Oh wow, I have some serious freckles!” I thought to myself.
Freckles in Asia are sometimes seen as a sign of poverty. Skin coloring or defects are viewed as a sign of those who work in fields or have jobs which keep them in the sun, do not have money for cars but rather walk, ride bicycles or drive motorbikes. The elite look down on the lower class, so even Farangs (or Westerners) with darkened, freckled skin, must less-than.
At that time, six years ago, my ego ran rampant. How could I develop skin pigmentation at such a young age!? And just as my face finally began looking normal? Since whitening products are a dime a dozen in Asia, I began to use a whitening agent on my face.
It seemed to work and by the time I arrived home in America a year later in time for Winter, I had “white” skin.
What I didn’t realize was that the issue did not lie in the skin, or quality of the skin, but rather in my ego and it’s and inability to let go and accept what is.
Of all the things in the world to not accept about one’s self, freckles do not even seem as though they would be a contender. Everyone I meet thinks freckles are cute.
Nowadays there are products to appease the ego, to quiet it down, even suppress it for a time. Every other corner in Asia boasts a dermatology clinic or plastic surgery center. Even Eastern minded folk are moving towards Western-minded ideals of perfection in beauty. You cannot walk into a regular (non-natural, organic) store in Asia to buy product, and expect it to be free of whitening agents: deodorant, body care, sun cream, skin cream, perfume, shampoo. You name it; it will lighten your skin.
Of course there are gentle, natural products available around the world to appeal to the more rational-minded folk wishing to attend to external image, like skin buffers with vitamin C , which are much preferred over the unnatural methods and can improve skin quality.
But at what point do we stop listening to Ego, do we stop paying attention to society, and do we look inside into the heart of who we are? As beings made of energy? As soul? As pure consciousness? As love?
Where is the line between ego and programming from society and marketers? Perhaps it is so insidious that we cannot extract ourselves from the world except to live outside of it. Perhaps it is wise to accept that we are fed many ideals that are untrue, and the ego can simply quiet down, for she doesn’t know what she is talking about.
Recently I read an article from the woman who wrote The Beauty Myth in the early 1990’s. The essence of the article is that society tells us that women in middle age are jealous and fearful of younger women taking their place; in relationships, in society, in beauty ideals. She, and many other women state the contrary, that it is the 20-something women who are too insecure to know who they are or what they want, and truly admire and look up to middle-age women.
Older women wish to guide these younger women to find their essence.
It is my wish that as I move towards middle age I am further away from the naïve, scared child I was early on, and that I embody many of the qualities of the wise women in our society.
It is my hope that I have learned to become friends with my ego and if nothing else, to see the teacher that she is, rather than an enemy, if I cannot completely let go. It is my sincere wish and belief that many around the world are already in process on this path of consciousness.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Wikimedia Commons