Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I should listen more often to my own wisdom.  I realized the other morning, as I was making coffee, that I’d been hit in the past few weeks by the "importance-of-being-important" bug.  Without even realizing what was going on in my own head!  And getting all depressed and sorry for myself!  Amazing, how these things keep coming back to haunt us, even when we think we sent them packing long ago.

I suspect I wrote about this particular bug in my book of essays, "Persist: In Praise of the Creative Spirit in a World Gone Mad With Commerce."  (I have been working on an audio book version in the past couple of weeks, so you'd think I might have been more alert.)  It certainly belongs there, because it stands in the way of many creative people.  In part, it's envy: we look around and see artists or writers we consider to be far more "important" than ourselves.  They make more money, sell more books or paintings, find their way onto the bestseller lists or into the blue chip galleries, get talked and written about, admired...

But it goes deeper than that.  It goes to the heart of this impossibly demanding ego whose hunger for recognition and need for stroking is insatiable.  When I manage to remind myself that ego is nothing but the construct of my imagination, I can put it back in its proper place--which is not at the forefront of my mind.  And I can always try gratitude--for all the blessings I enjoy that are denied to millions, the vast majority, really, of my fellow human beings.  That's humbling, but effective.

The other tactic I've found useful, in meditation, is to practice being small; that is, to focus on the intake of the breath until I'm ready to expand it to whole body breathing; then to "breathe" myself in the context of the entire room, imagining the room to be breathing with me; then the house, the surrounding city, the state, the country, the globe, and out to the solar system and the galaxy...  So by the time I'm able to see myself in the context of the whole universe, I'm feeling pretty small.  Not in an unhealthy, uncomfortable way, but pleasantly, just a living, breathing part of it all.   

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