“‘Take the ego out of it. Accept what your body and mind can do today, and let it be enough. Have compassion for yourself.'” -anonymous friend quoting yogi
Dear Geoff, it’s been a long time since NUCS, but I enjoy reading your writing. You have a very refreshing perspective on life…
Right before I moved to Boston, I went through a bad experience that made me re-evaluate my whole life. Moving on was a very difficult prospect, and moving to Boston was only the first stage of healing. (Meeting all of you at NUCS was an incredibly vital, rejuvenating experience).It was often difficult not to look back and not to wonder what could have been. One day, a yoga instructor said to me during a practice, “Take the ego out of it. Accept what your body and mind can do today, and let it be enough. Have compassion for yourself.” That thought sticks with me. When I am in a difficult place, I try to remember to have that compassion, accept and experience what I’m feeling, and then move on.
But always start with compassion. And remember that two steps forward and one back is still progress. Be well.
Ego and Selfishness
I’ve astounded myself with the growth out of and dissolve of my ego (classic definition) over the past few years. Recently, I’ve again been impressed by the selfless extent of my concern for another’s well-being. This is a marvellous point for re-evaluation for a self-proclaimed selfish person who believes that objectively there is only selfishness and altruism is a universal impossibility. I’ve come to understand my sense of self as being dynamic, not limited to my own soul or pleasure but now including friends and family or a sense of the world. Occasionally, my sense of selfishness is primarily for another individual, often for whom I feel intense love or empathy. Objectively, I can still argue this as selfish, but we do not feel the world objectively so experientially I have grown to experience a more altruistic purpose in life.
Perhaps yesterday you were capable of running a marathon, and did, so today you cannot. This is easy to understand and accept. Perhaps yesterday you were able to be productive, but today you cannot rise from bed. This is discouraging, but keep a larger time perspective; you can survive without doing anything today. Perhaps yesterday you could see and hold and play with someone very close to you, but today they are gone. This is very difficult to accept. Perhaps in this case, it is best to narrow your perspective; consider the day.
Perhaps yesterday I was on top of the world, but today I barely managed to get out of bed and go to work and survive an 8 hour work day. This and staying busy through the night was enough; most importantly, it was enough for me to fall asleep at night and meet a new day today.
Each new day brings a new energy, a new freedom or burden, a new set of tasks or adventures. Yesterday was a sunk cost for today; for better or worse, what’s done is done. Reevaluate and take your next step. Look over your shoulder to yesterday only to learn lessons for tomorrow, then face front and take another step. Accept what you have and of what you are capable and let it be enough.
Have Compassion for Yourself
Compassion is defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for one who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. I’m uncomfortable recommending that you feel sorrow or pity for yourself or to consider yourself unfortunate; but absolutely work to alleviate suffering. You should celebrate yourself and understand how fortunate you are, always. Of course, your life could always be better; if you choose to pursue a better life then I encourage your efforts (purpose of this project). But don’t for a moment pity yourself; you are very fortunate.
I would suggest that first you grant yourself clemency, and then through acceptance learn to love yourself. The world will not love you reliably until your love for yourself is abundant. The love you feel from the world is merely a reflection. Align yourself to receive the love of the world. Love is your responsibility, burden and salvation.