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Life Lifter: My Pocket Egometer
Things in life are so rarely as they seem. Take the insightful new blog we discovered, Bowl of Saki, whose names suggests it will extol the virtues and varieties of drinking high-alcohol Japanese wine. This saki has to do with metaphorical wine—a way of "drinking in"the world that was advocated by Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan in the early 1920s. Each day, the site features one intriguing—and challenging—idea, my favorite being this one from September 23, which focuses on (ouch) the ego. "The whole tragedy of life," says Khan, "is in losing sight of one's natural self, and the greatest gain in life is coming into touch with one's real self."
I have felt this pain, as I suspect we all have from the moment we start picking lipstick—and the shade of smile beneath it—to appeal to the larger world. And yet what followed was what really stopped me."The real self is covered by many layers of ego; those which preponderate above all others are hunger and passion, beneath these are pride and vanity."
Contrary to what we usually think, pride here is regulated to a distant third in the recipe for an raging ego. First is hunger. Not hunger as in meatballs, hunger as in "strong desire." What, I wondered, did I have a strong desire about? Oh dear, I knew instantly. I have a strong to be a lunch-box note mother.
A lunch-box note mother, to me, is a mother who remembers to tape loving but not embarrassing notes on her child's sandwich each morning. She volunteers at recess and never loses her temper and never runs around the house in her underwear, bitterly accusing her offspring of purposefully hiding her office shoes. Her children revere her, and grow up to be popular, smart, and marvelous at the clarinet. All the other mothers, too, worship her and invite her and her kids over for playdates just to study her maternal perfection and get her recipe for banana bread.
All this glittering accomplishment and adoration, unfortunately, has nothing to do with mothering, which is the process of loving your kids and raising them to adulthood and sending them to school with a lunch and a note. I am no a wise old Sufi soothsayer, but I can see the value of a certain test I like to think as my pocket egometer. Compare the noun form (marathon runner) with the physical action (run long distance as fast as you can) of what you want to do. If your hunger for the noun form is stronger, please consider that this impulse is exactly what's preventing you from doing it to your best ability. Then go drink a glass of wine or get a hug from a friend—and start over in the morning at the action, not the ideal.
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