February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 7 of 29
Did I just write Dear ego?! What a strange convention that in the world of letter writing we say ‘Dear Sir’, ‘Dear Miss Peachey’ ‘Dear Friend’. Yet over in the world of emails we seem to have gone to the opposite extreme: ‘Hi Sandra’, total strangers will write… ‘please… buy from me, pay me attention…’, etc., etc.
It’s one of life’s contradictions. And life is full of them. So I wander off into these tangential musings as I try to make sense of life’s twinning duplicities.
Even though I know these internal thought trajectories are my ego’s distraction from facing the external world – still they tramp through my brain; because if my mind is busy, then it’s distracted from allowing me to step into the spotlight… Oh I know all about spotlights, since I’ve spent a lot of time lurking back stage in theatre productions, conferences and class rooms. I’ve spent time on stage too, in many different capacities…
Yes – the spotlight! It’s a weird thing, that circle of super illumination. It has a warmth and brightness that beckons you to bask in it. It will follow you around the stage showing you the way, highlighting everything that you concurrently wish to reveal and maybe more; but sometimes it can blind you and often you cannot see your audience – since you are stranded in a peculiar, circular prison of concentrated, artificial light. Most people stand outside the spotlight – some ignore, some happy to watch, and some more standing in the dark contemplating how they can step in and be seen.
So with all these inherent contradictions, my ego both loves and loathes standing in the spotlight. What it loves is applause, agreement and praise. What it hates is indifference, disapprobation and looking like any shade of a fool. Meaning that, in the ebb and flow of my theatrical mind – the spotlight both is both seductive and destructive.
My ego wants many things… It wants to be loved; to have an easy life and an easy climb up onto the stage; it wants to be recognised and when it is – halleluiah – how wonderful, how edifying – the applause, attention and compliments make it glow and grow.
But then this ego starts to turn in to my alter ego and one compliment is never enough. This ego needs to be fed. It’s voracious – it can never have enough druggy adoration. And so it will always want its’ next fix…
And if it doesn’t get that fix, it soon forgets the warmth of the spotlight. When the audience leaves, what is the point of remaining on the stage? My ego then slinks off into the wings, shirks out of the theatre via the back door and leaves stealthily by cover of darkness.
It has such a short memory for praise, my ego. As far as it’s concerned, each piece of praise is a thing of the past almost as soon as it is uttered. Criticism though, lingers longer. It stabs like a dagger and its wounds often get infected as they fester away, ignored or untreated, in the dark.
So then my ego shuns the spotlight. It lives like a hermit in a dark deep cave and deliberately does not expose itself to further pain or ignominy. Or at least it tells me not to do that… And it’s a form of rampant protectionism. Essentially – it is telling me that I need to stay in the safety of the cave. It may be dark in there, but it is familiar and I know where everything is. ‘Leave the cave’ my alter ego says and I will be attacked by a savage pack of strange wolves, as well as being rejected by my tribe; and that will be death.
Maybe it’s fortunate that I have a low boredom threshold. Much as I love my cave, I do need to stretch my legs, and my ego beyond it.
One thing that gets me out there is my writing – just one of the many things that challenges my ego. I write and it feels as if my words somehow peel away all my surfaces, exposing all my vulnerabilities. It is something that I am impelled to anyway, not least because it completely confuses my duplicitous ego; which means that my writing begs both to be shared and to be hidden.
It’s a duality that fortunately I recognise. I post and publish (and be damned) anyway, because I don’t thrive in the dark and I don’t grow on my own. If I stay in my cave, I get demotivated and disconnected. My ego becomes the cave and wants to shut me in, so I don’t get hurt.
But if my ego will not commit compliments to memory, then I have to remind it of them in other ways. A year or so ago I started writing fiction and by doing so I’ve found a passion for it, so fierce, that I simultaneously want to shout about it and hide it. So I started, shared samples of it and then was scared of it. My ego told me it would be too much hard work to write a long loved novel, only to then face the ultimate rejection… But I know this pattern and so I store up the feedback too and here are the comments about my first public piece of fiction writing:
- “Fiction is your thing. That is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing”.
- “Your writing is beautiful, it drew me in and made me want to read more … and I feel the story you have to share is a soul message … your heart is ready to write this fictional masterpiece”.
- “There needs to be a LOVE button. That was so beautiful, flowing, poetic … Had me wanting to know her life before and after this …”
- “It’s beautiful … you do indeed have the wonderful gift of being able to write fictional prose. So pleased you are sharing this with the world… and you can’t keep this gift to yourself.” *
So after sitting in the dark with my book and doing nothing about it for so long, it is a shock to see those words of encouragement again…
But then sitting in the dark is painfully easy. I’m now choosing to put myself out there into the spotlight any way. I may be ignored, I could be criticised; but you see, the spotlight is not my final destination. It’s just a place where I have decided I will dance for a while. To me, recognition can be the applause of millions or even more satisfyingly, it is that one voice that tells you that you made a difference. And I have to tell you that both my ego and my alter ego can find no better contentment in this world than that.
So, my dear twin egos – I see you for what are: friend and foe; light and dark; stupid and smart.
And that could just describe me, on any given day, couldn’t it?
Well, I’ve always said that I’m a creature of contradictions – so I’ll still feel fear and step out there, regardless. I’ll start with the act of creation and work towards the contentment of completion. Then my twins, we can deal with the feedback later.
That’s my decision made then. It’s time to bow out of this letter.
Coach, Author and Apologist
PS: As Valentine’s Day comes around and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, into a beautiful non fiction book. It makes the perfect present, for you and for your loved ones … You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), order it at any bookshop, or indeed buy it from all good book websites around the world…
PPS: * If you would like to know what my readers were commenting about, check it out here…