by StevieAnne Minner
Egos. We all have them. In fact, egos have become a subject that more and more new-thought leaders and spiritual teachers are focusing in on – inviting us to separate from, transcend above, and live without.
A personal fan of introspective, spiritual work myself, I can appreciate the works of Eckhart Tolle, Debbie Ford, and many others who have written about observing the ego, which swings like a pendulum between inferiority and superiority. It mirrors my faith in Christianity which points directly to the conflict we’ve all experienced since the beginning of time – PRIDE.
The ego, as suggested in many works, is perceived as our “identity.” And while my Christian faith calls me to be “in this world, not of it” I have to regularly practice ways to express myself gracefully. Though there are numerous ways to define and understand ego and prideful positions, why not add humor to such humbling practices?
A crass and comical way to observe the ego head-on from a place of neutrality and even lightheartedness. When we see our egos as more of an “activity” taking place within these “God pods” we are scooting around in, we invite in observation and inquiry versus self-judgment and criticism of others. Egos, much like farts, are simply a part of the human experience. Clearly, God has a “sense” of humor also.
This new idea of “conscious” living is far more than just being mentally “here” – it is about being spiritually “present” and mindful of how we show up and express ourselves in each fleeting moment, cognizant of how to speak to those around us, as well as, internally to ourselves.
Awareness around one’s pride is the quickest way to experience resolve. To make this practice of mindfulness easier to “digest,” here are a few brief theories that will help you identify the activity of ego within you and others. No different than the sometimes abrupt and offensive activity of farting, egos share a very similar M.O:
- We all have them, and it’s easier to tolerate our own than others.
- We have our own unique brand – some “digest” information or experiences better than others. Some environments can be extremely offensive and upset those who are highly sensitive to specific topics.
- Clearing the air can be difficult after either is “aired,” typically putting a significant distance between us and our loved ones/friends/fellow beings.
- Both are known to cause a set of rosy cheeks – only with ego, they are topside. Expressing either can cause embarrassment – for all parties involved.
- They both share the ‘Silent But Deadly’ expression! C’mon, we know that ‘stinkin’-thinkin’’ internal dialogue we all have that we are “better than another” or “not good enough.” Both can be toxic and held back when not able to express them in a safe space.
- Often, when we express either, we are likely quick to blame, not to claim.
- All too often we point out and laugh at others for their abrupt explosions of fury or flatulence, but rarely do we acknowledge openly and humbly in the times that we have done the same, owning “It was me.”
- Pffttt… Just hot air. You know, those moments when you think there’s solid proof of someone’s incompetence, yet really our perceptions of them are proven completely inaccurate. Sometimes, whether it’s an ego or a fart, it expresses as nothing more than hot air.
- Sharting is possible with both. Ever had one of those moments, when you swear you have self-control and you won’t explode; however, you just can’t take it any longer, and you get diarrhea… of the mouth (always a mess to clean up). This often happens when we have held back our opinions, rather than sharing them over time, then wind up expressing it all in an explosive rant.
Letting both go creates inner peace. As human beings, we are meant to express. It is human nature. Both activities of farting and ego chatter are necessary to fully experience this thing we call “life.”
The invitation here is to consider filtering before we fire. This act of observing the ego and allowing discernment before discharge is deemed “Conscious Cropdusting” and may just be the answer to world peace.
Here’s to expressing ourselves through many unique forms in a loving and less-offensive way, creating an environment that is less toxic and more tolerable for all humankind.
Till next time, StevieAnne x
By Kirsten Macdonald
She was sure she heard someone call her name. The voice had a feminine lilt with gentle humor etched on the edges. She opened her eyes, dry from the flight and the voice bearer was not near. What did the sleep doctor call it? Hypnagogic state. A foggy place. The peripheral.
This reminded her of when she was tiny, sleeping in the bunk of the truck cabin. The scent of leather cleaner and dust was familiar and warm. She was left there to sleep in the locked metal hulk while he went in the roadhouse. She could not remember why or where she was there, six-year-olds are not concerned about locations. But the girl was snug in her travel space.
The veil between dreams and here lifted slowly, and a pale light drew her eyes over to the driver’s seat. Her ankles squeezed as did her little heart.
A striking tall illuminated shape, something like a person, transparent radiant blue, like a human firefly sat there. She could not see a face but sensed a watchfulness. A sentry, a nutcracker soldier, guarding.
Fear was not there, but wonder filled the girl with a particular type of awe like the time she first saw a rollercoaster. Struck with an intense wonder she stayed very still.
The girl blinked, and blinked and then it was just gone. As she woke, the wonder disappeared like a popped bubble. Who was her visitor? Her human firefly was from that moment tucked under the file called ‘To Be Explained.’ She did not mention it to the busy and faded grown-ups.
During the day she was tucked into her world titled The Bunk. 180-degree views through the elevated truck cabin around her made her feel like she was floating above the world, a princess being carried on her throne.
Occasionally she was fed small packets of potato chips and bananas, golden with brown splotches, ripe from the heat. Dried banana chips were the best, the squeak they made when you bit down was bliss.
She remembers her fear of bones, after reading Jack and The Beanstalk, the fierce roar of the Giant grinding Jack’s bones to make his bread. When they got Chinese food, she licked a Prawn Cracker, and it latched onto her tongue, she bit down and wondered if this was what Jack’s bones felt like. She retched. Sometimes she felt like Giants drove trucks too and she was the stolen harp.
A tin of hard-boiled lollies warm to the touch was empty when he wasn’t watching she opened the lid. The small popping noise of the lid made her smile; she would lick her finger and dip into the little crystally shards of leftover pieces sitting in the powdery sugar. Like sweet little pieces of glass, they would sit on her tongue, and she would feel them dissolve and time how long it took them to disappear. She did this all with very quiet joy. She was already learning; she had to be careful not to upset him. Princesses were only princesses when they were quiet.
The crackle of the CB exploded with male conversations, gravelly like sandpaper and littered with swear words and laughter beyond her understanding. They had a magic to them, messages floating through the air from truck to truck that the little people driving their cars did not know about. They knew where the coppers were, and did you see that Sheila in the blue Datsun? She had no idea who Sheila was, but apparently, the menfolk liked her a lot everywhere they went.
The hills rolled by, carpeted with green grass then within kilometers were replaced with paddocks, crisp dry clumps of grass and sheep that were skinny after their haircuts. She imagined the lives she had lived here once before where many little animals could speak and be friends. There were no grown-up people there, just grown up animals. Wise and strong Aslan types who laughed hearty laughs and gave hugs that did not hurt but made you feel all wrapped up.
In the here -now- life the little one knew that animals could bite. Like the spider at school. All black fur and spiky legs, she wanted to look closer but was scared of being eaten. Some creatures bit, not because they were nasty but to protect themselves. How she wished she could communicate that she was different. To the others.
She did not know why she just was. The mean just didn’t live in her. She wanted more than anything to brush the hair of a lion, to ride on the back of a bear, to be piggybacked through the jungle by a gorilla.
She once had a butterfly land on her finger. She believed with her whole body it was because she had asked nicely from a gentle heart.
It would take many decades for her to learn her same feeling for human friendships. Biting happened frequently.
She created the stories; she lived on that hill where flowers sang her name and tales of Briah Fox were true. Very tall trees were an escape to another world.
A tree striking up like an old man alone in the dusk challenged her to remember its shape. She held up her hands up like a camera and took a photo with her mind; then it went into a file cabinet in her head. It was a faded green color like the one in Pa’s office. So many files in her cabinet tucked away for later.
As a grown woman she cannot recall what she was saving them for. Perhaps it was for right now, right at this moment as she sat on an airplane high above the ground remembering the age of six.
The plane is nearly empty, and she looks over the next aisle. He is watching her. He is her Aslan. Sometimes his wildness scares her, his distant self when he needs to walk alone can make her feel like she’s vulnerable. Her fierce woman fury rises from the depths of survival when this happens; her eyebrow raises in haughtiness challenging everything that might bring her undone. He has taught her that men can be good. She is safe and does not need to draw her sword.
She touched the gold cross that sits on her chest. The full, rounded aching now in sweet and sour waves that is 2018.
Author’s Note: certain things happen to us on the fringe of life, at the tips of our memory, the edge of awake and asleep that echo of a story. Like a haze above the hot road and the magic of a firefly, if you look directly, it peaks out of view. Peripheral wonder. To remember we were all children once, that wanted to shine, not from attention but for want of harmony and joy is timely. The wildness of joy may scare people, but your tribe will arrive. You might even stumble across a human firefly together.
For John xxx
Ponderers, please focus your eyes on this wonderful creature- an award winning social commentator, journalist for the Courier Mail, author, academic and columnist PLUS she reads Ponderings which makes her a fave, she is the gorgeous Dr. Karen Brooks. Some of you may know that I once ran a candle company, candle making was one of my FAVORITE hobbies which then turned into a lucrative business. I came across a book titled Tallow, and was swept away into a mystical land of magic, candles and fantasy. Who could imagine a candle maker infusing the ability to heal and manoeuvre? (Grin inserted) Karen was responsible for MANY an all nighter as I consumed the Bond Rider Series and more than a few packets of Tim Tams.
K: One of my favourite book series of all time is the Tallow series. I have never met a creative such as yourself that can write such exquisite fiction and then jump over to current news affairs and social commentary- you’re quite extraordinary in this sense. How do you make the switch and what is your secret?
KB: No-one has ever asked that question before. I think writing in the two entirely different modes, even though they’re both creative acts, makes it easier for me to shut out one and focus on the other. One also stimulates the other. You see, when I was an academic and lecturing at university, I was always writing lectures, papers and researching and my newspaper columns were, in a sense a liberating (because I didn’t have to footnote and could write in the first person!) extension of that. With the newspaper columns, I have to work to a strict word limit which is generally quite inflexible, so it’s great discipline for a writer. It teaches you to delete extraneous words. You have to write quickly, to topic, get your points across concisely, entertainingly (you want the reader to keep reading) and lyrically/persuasively. In many ways, both academic writing and the opinion pieces trained me for fiction. I researched the Tallow series very thoroughly (and do even more now with my historical fiction), but I also learned to write in a disciplined way which also meant being able to switch off while at the same time using the skills I’d been taught by great editors. It takes me one to two years to write my books, but every week, I also have to produce an 800 word column on a social or political issue. I look forward to those days (mostly LOL!) and no longer feel they interrupt my novel writing, they are just part of what I do. I don’t think there’s a secret – I simply flick over. I’d never thought about it before. But, after 17 years ( I started writing fiction and newspaper columns at the same time), I’m an old hack – at the column, that is. Still learning so much about writing fiction! So it’s not a secret, but something that I’ve become accustomed to doing and don’t think about anymore.
K: Who is your favourite character you have created and why?
KB: Oh, sheesh… That’s like asking who’s your favourite child! I love them all… however, I adore Tallow and Dante. I also love Anneke Sheldrake (from The Brewer’s Tale), Mallory Bright and Sir Francis Walsingham from The Locksmith’s Daughter (the latter being a real figure in history, he was such a challenge and treat to create from the bones of history, to make him three-dimensional) and, in my current book, The Chocolate Maker’s Wife, I have fallen in love with a few of the characters, including another real historical figure, Samuel Pepys, the great diarist, who features. I will keep the others a secret for now 🙂
K: Who inspires you and why?
KB: My amazing husband (one in a million) and my wonderful adult children. They have always inspired me and will continue to, and not just because I should include my family, but because they are my rocks, terrific, grounded people in their own right, and my loves. My fantastic friends – they inspire me. They’re all honest, good, hard-working, talented and kind people. My grandmother inspired me because of her strength and resilience – despite being such a pragmatic woman, she also had a vivid imagination. I’m also inspired by my beloved friends, Dr Kiarna Brown (obstetrician and gynecologist in Darwin) and Kerry Doyle (CEO of NSW Heart Foundation) who are both incredibly smart, witty, kind, compassionate women who give so much to those around them. Also, my beloved friend Sara Douglass who, even though she died in 2011, still continues to inspire me for all the same reasons. People like Quentin Bryce, our former Governor General, who has always conducted herself with such dignity, intelligence, and grace. Writer Shirley Hazard for the same reason (I had the great privilege of meeting and interviewing her back in 1994). Margaret Atwood – for her powerful writing and politics. My incredible friend Stephen Bender for his integrity, kindness, insight and ethics. And my former colleague and dear pal, Professor Jim McKay for his endless support, wisdom, compassion and generous heart and mind. They’re all sensational people for so many reasons, and I’m so fortunate they’re part of my lives – whether it be in the flesh or from a huge distance or through words. I could list so many more… Makes me realise how lucky I am to have such good people in my life.
K: Tolkien or Austen?
KB: Ha! Can I say both? It’s the brain switch thing… 😉 I still reread them.
K: What advice would you give your 25 year old self if you could meet?
KB: Be kinder to yourself. Life isn’t a competition no matter how many people try and convince you to enter into it or race you to the finish. You will find great love if you open your heart and give it (I did, but it would have been nice to know back then when I was on the cusp of a horrible divorce); as much as it’s a cliche, really do stop and smell the roses.
K: France or London and why?
KB: London – I am an Anglophile – the history, the messiness, the imperfections, the incredible resilience of the people, it’s amazing.
K: What music are you listening to?
KB: Albums of Restoration music – I always listen to music from the period my novels are set in as I write them.
K: What do you like about the Australian art space?
KB: A great deal. We have such variety and talent – across all genres and spectrums. My daughter, Caragh Brooks, is an artist in Melbourne and I love her work (illustration, painting, and sculpture) and the generosity of the art scene and other artists towards her and each other. I also adore the work of Andrew Taylor in QLD. I have the work of Ken Johnston hanging in my home, some of Shaun Tan’s marvellous book covers as well as an Indigenous artist named Muly’s work. Oh, and my daughter’s work – that is proudly displayed everywhere in the home and always attracts great comments. I also like the work of Tom Roberts, Fredrick Drysdale and Jeffrey Smart. Now, I took that literally to mean “art” but if you broaden it to include other aspects, such as writing, music, theatre, film, etc. Then, I like that artists keep giving so much to culture that (and this is what I don’t like) sometimes doesn’t seem to appreciate the enormous contribution they make. Economics may be the bones of a society, infrastructure the flesh, politics etc the mind, but art is the beating heart.
K: If you could have one minute on National TV Prime Time to give a message what would you say?
KB: Please, be more generous in your heart towards others.
K: When is the next book coming out?
KB: In the USA, next year (The Locksmith’s Daughter – which is out here already) and in Australia, October 2018 – The Chocolate Maker’s Wife.
For more information about Karen:
Dr. Karen Brooks
Associate Professor and Honorary Senior Research Fellow IASH, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland.
Columnist for the Courier Mail.
Join Karen for great conversations and sharing on FaceBook: Karen Brooks‘ Official Fan Page – love to have you!
Author of: The Locksmith’s Daughter ,The Brewer’s Tale, Tallow, Votive and Illumination in The Curse of the Bond Riders series.
Consuming Innocence, Rifts Through Quentaris and the Cassandra Klein Quartet
Director: Sara Douglass Enterprises