Mr. Dickson was 34, a bachelor, a science teacher, and my varsity soccer coach. Small of stature, with a large personality to compensate, he was the man I had to impress to make the varsity team as a Junior. The three day tryout culminated in the two mile run, now was my chance to separate myself from the others; I prepared all summer for this moment. I finished with a 9:53 just behind Greg, a state track record holder. I made the team!
Six weeks later we were in the middle of the season and I had managed to hold a starting position. Sophomores were biting at my heels to take my place, and I was smug, riding out the momentum of the work I had done that summer. I was complacent, invulnerable, and cocky.
One weekday we gathered in the parking lot for practice. It was rumored that we were running the two mile again. I didn’t feel like running that far, so I convinced a couple friends to run the one mile lap with me, but finish it like we had run two– sprint, collapse, gasp for air– it was all very convincing. And it worked too!
Well, it worked for about ten minutes, then others crossing the finish line ratted us out. “You…(gasp)…didn’t…(gasp)…run…(gasp)…two miles!” Mr. Dickson was furious at our deception. We three ran the rest of practice and sat the bench the entire next game.
Looking back I’m glad that happened. That cocky little kid needed to learn a lesson about work and respect. Only I’m not so sure how well I learned it. I caught myself doing again just recently.
This blog was the beginning of a sincere journey. I worked hard to be honest with myself, write only the truth even if it was embarrassing. When it started to take a toll on my Ego, it came up with this ingenious deception: (in the voice of Gollum) “Let us suffer a bit and then tell peter we are gone. We can tell him he is enlightened, better than others, and we can stay here as long as we likes…my precious.”
Now I know how Mr. Dickson felt. Instead of doing the work to kill Ego, I settled into complacency and just pretended to do the work. I tricked myself. Made myself into a fool. I walked around town judging people in my head, “I wonder if they know how enlightened I am.” Instead I could have been killing ego, “I wonder what I can learn from them”.
Perhaps a part of me is all too happy to be tricked, after all egoicide is hard work, and it is painful, so on some level it’s just easier to let myself be tricked into thinking I am doing the work of killing ego, but in reality, I have become spiritually complacent, spiritually invulnerable and spiritually cocky.
Killing ego hurts. If it doesn’t hurt, then it isn’t dying! Here’s my plan:
Do three things today that really hurts ego. And tomorrow I’ll see if I can do four.
For example, was some one rude? Ego has two ways to get fed.
(A) It can say, “tell them who you are, let them know that you thought they were rude!” And confrontation sets in, assuming a position of superiority (Egos favorite treat!)
(B) Other egos work this way, “I won’t say a word but I’ll fester over this event, rolling it around in mind over and over, never letting it heal, picking the scab as it forms.” Ego plays the victim, looking to be pet and stroked by telling this story to everyone with ears, “I mean can you believe that? She just stepped right in front of me and grabbed a napkin! She didn’t even say excuse me. Ugh, people like that just drive me crazy.” Then our “friend” pets our ego, “I’m so sorry! What a bitch!” Who even does that?” This also gives ego a sense of superiority and therefore a sense of self.
Ok so now that I’m aware of the deceit, I’m making my ego run the rest of the day. It will hurt, but it will hurt so good.