I’ve been thinking lately about my ego and my mood cycle. Two days ago, I wrote “I feel that expansive, fecund, open sense bubbling up in me, settling me down, inviting me to nurture and set free. Then, a while later, I feel a feisty urge to grab hold and wrestle with my circumstances and force them to conform to some idea in my brain.” Right now, I’m in the restless part of my cycle, and my ego is eager to get to work on something. It gives me a sort of shimmering sense of dissatisfaction, not like something is “wrong”, but like I’ve been sitting too long and want to stretch. I don’t want to get into the habit of simply indulging my ego with any old thing whenever it prods me, though. Steve often talks of feeling like he’s “treading water”, too. He told me this morning that he wanted to work on “pointing his canoe”, which is his metaphor for re-establishing direction and putting energy into venturing forward, so I asked him if he uses some kind of ego energy to address that. He said, “It’s not like that. It’s more like gathering your courage and discipline to step into a bigger world. I think the ego is a smaller world.”
I immediately got my pencil and notebook and wrote that down.
A bigger world. A world that is beyond me, beyond my control, beyond prediction. A bigger concentric circle. I do think we tend to pull back into our tiny, lower-case universe, the one where we feel safe and comfortable and powerful. We can’t really help that tendency, but we can acknowledge it and try to point our canoe in a different direction. I am really inspired by people who do that, and through the network of blogging, I have met a few who I think are paddling away. Maybe they’re not the people you’re thinking of. They aren’t the extreme sportsmen. They aren’t the world travelers. They aren’t the social superstars. They are the suffering, the ones who have met their limitations and crossed into the unknown. They blog about living with their illness, their addiction, their recovery, their brain damage in a way that definitely requires them to gather courage and discipline and step into a bigger world, a world which they don’t master. And sometimes they whine, and sometimes their posts are incredibly boring, but I keep visiting them because I think they are truly onto something. I suppose that I am hoping to witness their breakthrough flight, when they will soar high above the rest of us into that bigger world of awareness. I’m not sure what that will look like, but maybe I’ll recognize it anyway.
I am working on writing a memoir on my husband’s illness and death. Four years ago, he had his last surgery.
The story of how he came out of anesthesia is perhaps a glimpse into that bigger world. My oldest daughter wrote about it in her Live Journal that evening:
“When I saw him after the surgery, painkillers and low blood sugar had rendered him almost completely unresponsive. We tried everything—tickling him, turning his insulin pump off, talking to him, poking him—but the most we could get from him was a groan or a slight shift of position. I told him I was pregnant. Mom said they’d called a rematch of the Super Bowl. I even took a picture of him, threatening, I think, to mock him with it later. Nothing made any difference until I had to leave for work. I squeezed his arm and said “Bye, Dad. I love you,” and in a sleepy, submerged-sounding voice, he said “Love you.” We couldn’t get him to say or do anything else, but every time someone said “I love you,” he would immediately mumble it back.”
So, I think of Jim, hovering somewhere between consciousness and death and knowing only one response: “I love you”. This is the Universe you don’t control.