Wednesday, March 2, 2022
I was on a big evolutionary kick about a decade ago with the intent of dispatching my ego once and for all. I meant business; there was going to be zero tolerance for the self-serving concerns and behaviors of that unenlightened component of my psyche.
Sounding a tad alarmed, a friend said, “Can’t you just give the ego* a little something?”
“No,” I said. “I give it nothing.”
The ego just laughs. I’m no more “woke” now than I was a decade ago. But I am a little easier-feeling toward the ego-centric side of myself as I re-read Thomas Moore’s classic Care of the Soul — A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life.
I’m picking up on a certain intertwinement between ego and soul that is making me feel a bit more open to that stubbornly needy part of myself. There is something redeeming about the soul and the ego palling around.
It’s easy to see why the ego would latch on when the soul is out there doing good, promotable work. And there is no question that good stuff is going to happen since the soul -- that deep and earthy part of us according to Moore -- is tuned into the very vibrancy of life.
Caring for the soul, then, requires tuning into whatever the channels of aliveness are in us and giving it expression. No area is disqualified from the deep calling of the soul. The soul may care deeply about accessorizing an outfit just as legitimately as it may be driven to ease the suffering of others. It may be moved by the music of math or, as is the case for my soul, it may spring to life at the sound of Irish folk music, literally forcing me to stamp my feet and clap my hands as if I’m a fair lass upon a grassy glen.
When the soul gets involved and something marvelous happens, the ego is likely not far behind, always at-the-ready to take credit for the soul’s good work. Which is not all bad. Ever alert to our survival, when the ego sees where there is traction, it’s probably willing to invest some extra quality energy to the mission.
I probably sound like I’m still not all that sympathetic to my ego. How can I be when I see what’s going on? Take enlightenment. My ego craves enlightenment just as much as my soul, but they are for very different reasons and one of those reasons doesn’t seem very enlightened. But still, the ego means to keep us alive and that’s hard to argue with. Even though only the soul truly knows what that means.
To all our parts,
*By ego, I mean the part of us that has to do with our sense of self and how to most opportunistically protect, defend and promote it in the interest of our survival.