I absolutely love and stand in awe of those circumstances that come together and coalesce into a learning experience. Learning of this sort can’t come from a classroom, through a teacher or professor; the most powerful lessons come from life and as human beings we so, absolutely, need to recognize these lessons, grab them – dissect them and analyze them, on our own.
For the past while, I’ve been watching someone I know, sometimes amused, sometimes absolutely appalled and disgusted but learning through the watching. A kind of mirror and a “What I don’t want to repeat” sort of thing.
Trying to put all the pieces together here, so bear with me if you choose to read this piece; it is a personal learning exercise.
I’ve always found human ego to be the most fascinating facet of personality; it is responsible for so much that is good and for so much that is evil. It can drive folks to heights and it can plummet them down into their own walled cell. A box of their own making, with an option for escape than may be ignored in favour of their self-perception.
This individual of my acquaintance, (we’ll call this person “P”), will deny being self-aggrandizing until the cows come home, instead opting to believe that what is going on is a “Good Thing”, when, in fact, it is nothing more than another chance at the stage and the spotlight. How do I know? I’ve been there. It was brought to my attention some time ago and although it was said with malice and anger, it was, none the less, true. It was said in the form of common gossip to another person, a good and sweet friend, who felt that I need to know that this individual held malice toward me and that I needed to use great care prior to becoming any more involved with this person’s plans. You see, I had walked away from something offered and I felt it was offered for the wrong reasons. I spoke to my dear friend of my misgivings and he told me, as he knew this individual far better than did I, that my misgivings were correct. My walking away and the man’s reaction to my walking away, assured me that I had been correct in my first assessment. This unpleasant individual went on the offensive, saying that everything I did was the “Dark Lillith Show” or something on those lines. I was pretty involved in organizing events for my small group, I had worked on larger events, all for the same cause or so I thought. In retrospect, I do wonder if it wasn’t an ego feeding exercise. I NEEDED something to believe in, I NEEDED something tangible to work toward. If something of value was built in the process, Great! Awesome! Terrific! but as I thought about things, I had to ask myself if this was truly an exercise in community foundations and building or was my ego at play here?
The answer wasn’t clear enough for me, so I decided that it was ego. And I walked away. There were other reasons for walking away, to be totally honest, but the issue of ego was the one that disturbed me the most. You see, I felt that a hero of mine was brought asunder due to his incredible ego. He died, penniless, relatively alone and addicted to drugs. He was brilliant, he was larger than life but he was a legend in his own mind and that was always primary to him. There is a difference and a large difference between being a “star” and being blinded by your own light. He was blinded, thought himself as more than just a star and as his ego grew, so did the odds of a supernova occurring. He did, in fact, “supernova” and it was a great loss to mankind’s progression. It was also and continues to be a dire warning to everyone. Be careful that you don’t fall for your own P.R. Look in the mirror, darkly. See the truth and set aside the image of self that you’ve created.
P is following the same path that I took. For the same reasons. And he has fooled himself in the same manner. I do wonder if he is capable of seeing what’s happening to him. Or perhaps ego has taken too much of a hold. Perhaps what propels him is a deeper, darker thing that he’s hidden away and prefers to forget. I am not worried about him. It’s actually just an interesting thing to watch. How long will his ego sustain him? How far will this ego push him in this self-aggrandizing? Where will it end?
I continued on with my own ego because it was too difficult to accept that what I held so dear, what I held to be of such importance was, in actuality, false. In this case, I refer to faith, to spirituality. The most difficult thing that I have had to confront, aside from the battle with ego, was admitting to myself that I had been wrong. That I had been fooled and worse had fooled myself into believing fairy tales. I had prided myself on my intelligence and the logic I had used to rid myself of my early introduction to religion, only to fall into the same trap with another “religion”, more false, more riddled with ridiculous mythology waved about as relevant faith, that the whole Jesus myth.
The other night, I watched A Dangerous Method. It is a movie that centers on the rift that occurred between Freud and Jung. The rift had one cause and one cause only, ego. The inability to listen to another point of view when differing from one’s own and then, using external factors as justification. It was apropos to everything I have been trying to solidify in my own mind. And then, last night, I watched In Search of the Great Beast, 666 – again, the potential and very real destructive nature of ego.
As I get older, knowledge and learning become precious. The most precious of all acquisitions in life. I’ve learned that spirituality, that faith, that beliefs are not the domain of any one individual. I’ve learned that no one can teach another individual their spirituality. It is the most intensely individual experience we will ever face, it is as individual as fingerprints. There is no path. There is no map or guide. Anyone who claims this title is a victim of their own ego. Eventually, succumbing and doing a crash and burn.
No one can teach us how to live our lives. It is a classroom of one. There are no teachers; there is no hard and fast lesson plan. We must learn to recognize every event in life, however small and seemingly insignificant, as a learning experience and as a reminder that we are not all that and a bag of chips. Lessons are constant and ongoing. There is no graduation. No diploma. It is just lessons, one after another. We live, we love but most important of all, we learn.