Ah, the Ego, the enemy of us all. Okay, maybe not the enemy. But definitely a stumbling block.
One major change that’s been unfolding over the past month and change since I got back from Arizona is that I’m learning to get out of my own way. By this I mean learning to shove my ego out of the way more often. I am not an advocate of complete destruction of the ego; that is the tool by which we interface with the world most of the time. However, unfortunately we often forget that the ego is not all of who we are. I’m not just talking about Freud’s id and superego; I’m talking about a wide range of selves and states of consciousness that are more specialized, and which most of us in postindustrial societies have never been formally trained to access.
As I mentioned in my last post, I updated the FAQ page, which hadn’t been changed in literally six months, to the day. Looking back, I had to stop myself from being embarrassed, because it’s more constructive to accept your past and learn what can be learned from them (as well as appreciate that that’s where you were at the time). But what I see, besides the overemphasis on structure and MUST HAVE MORE BOOKS, is a not surprising amount of self-centeredness.
Why doesn’t it surprise me? Mainly because I live in one of the most individualistic cultures in the world, and one of my character flaws (no, I don’t get any nifty merits for it, no matter how I manipulate my character sheet) is that I have a tendency towards self-centeredness. It’s something I’ve been working with, but some manifestations thereof are things I’m not really conscious of.
I saw it a lot in my focus in therioshamanism; while I had a lot of focus on the animals, and to a lesser degree the U.S. culture as a whole, a good deal of it was about me. That’s not to say that the growth I’ve experienced during my training has been a bad thing; far from it. However, there was a bit more “I’m doing this for ME” in there than I’m currently comfortable with.
Fortunately, I get to change, and so does my focus. As I’ve mentioned in other writing tonight, my focus has expanded outward from animals, to the Land as a whole. And I’m starting to become more involved and immersed in my community here in Portland–not just the pagan community, but Portland in general. What I’m finding is that my sense of community is shifting quite a bit.
This is a healthy thing. It’s bringing the connections I’ve been making over the past several months closer to home, as it were. I think, for all my effort, that sometimes I’ve still seen my spiritual life as something a bit abstract and distant, in comparison to the more immediate physical things like a job, home, etc. Being more aware of Community in general has helped to close this perceived gap quite a bit.
I’ll still be taking a good long time to learn where and what my community is (or are). And the relationship that develops will be ever-evolving. However, one thing that my trip to Arizona really did was shake me out of my head, and get me out of my way. The positive effects of that experience, I think, will resonate in my life for some time to come.