I’ve been trying some self-improvement lately, working on getting to know my inner spiritual mechanism a bit better (note: the fact that “mechanism” seems like an appropriate descriptor is maybe a hint that I’ve got a ways to go before true enlightenment). This includes things like paying attention to my intuitions about, oh, which route to drive to avoid traffic; listening to—and heeding—my heart when it says to play the piano instead of vacuuming the floor or going out to lunch with someone; stopping drinking coffee because I decided I didn’t want to be addicted to anything anymore; and, most recently, starting to think about the role my ego plays in my life and where its noisy voice gets in the way of me hearing from the universe.
It’s been difficult for me to work out the difference between self-esteem and ego . . . and I’m not sure that they are, always different. But sometimes, certainly, it seems that they are, and I’ll use an example from my own life to illustrate my point.
Yesterday around noon-time, I felt sleepy, so I decided to take a nap on the couch. In my defense, I’d already hauled about 10 wheelbarrow loads of horse shit from the three small paddocks, plus split several pieces of wood into kindling and restocked the firebox, in addition to feeding horses and cows and dogs and playing with the puppy. So anyway, before heading out for my ride, I thought I’d just snooze a little.
I went to sleep picturing my ego as a huge block of ice somewhere around my throat (or 5th Chakra), blocking communication between my heart and my mind, and I pictured a tiny stream of yellow heat streaming through the ice between my mind and my heart, slowly melting it away. When I woke up around , the first thought I had was “I need to wear my helmet when I’m riding.” The second thought I had was “But if anyone sees me, they’ll think I look ridiculous, out there riding bareback with an English helmet on.” My third thought was “Oh, yes, that’s my ego speaking.”
Now, those who’ve read previous entries will know that I don’t invariably stay on the horses I’m riding, and those who read this entry from Saturday will probably think that my mad, fraught dash on Shadow had something do with the decision to protect my head. If it did, it was only indirectly, through Ian who in Seattle read the entry right about the time I was falling asleep in Idaho and said to himself “God, why can’t she just wear a helmet?!?”
No, my crazy ride on Shadow did nothing to test my confidence in my abilities—I know that I’m a good rider (this is not ego—this is self-esteem, and a fact). I also know that I’m pretty much as safe bareback as not (in fact, my record of falls in the last five years, totaling three, are two-thirds from saddles.). I also know that accidents happen, and that people hit their heads, and that from the lofty back of a horse, those accidents can cause serious head traumas. Really, the one thing that kept me from wearing my helmet was that I thought it looked dorky, and all the good reasons weren’t enough to convince me. The helmet isn’t even uncomfortable, and I wear it all the time in lessons.
I got up from the couch and immediately left Ian a message telling him I was going to wear a helmet from then on, and could he please get me a ski helmet (I tell you, when the ego goes, it goes all the way) for Christmas. I then proceeded to put on my riding clothes, which consisted of cowboy boots, flannel-lined J Crew pants, a turtleneck shirt, a turtleneck sweater I knitted, a green puffy vest, a yellow
(Yes, that's me looking safe. Safe!)