As I was drafting an email, at work, the hubs sat beside me. It has only taken me five years to arrive at the same conclusion he shared in 2010. He always sees the long view. I wished my father could have met him; this man who seems to know me better than I know myself.
I see ego rear itself once again. It is this that I work very hard to let go.
I have come to realize that my ego gets in the way of seeing who I really am. It is defined by the company I keep, the things I am doing or wearing, the titles and certificates and perfect family. Ego does a great job of masking the insecurity beneath, the lack of faith I had with religion and people. Ego does a great job of masking myself.
Words used to bind me, blind me and bury me with guilt. I can finally type and speak them. No longer do they cling to my mind, heart and skin. Instead I filter, sort and allow them to slide off like water off a duck’s back. It was during camping, two summers ago, that critical remarks bothered me and hindered any enjoyment on a week long extended family trip. I had walked away and stared at the ducks swimming in the river, while the angry tears and resentment swirled within. It is this idiom’s visual that always brings me perspective.
I re-read the words and sent my email. I am always amazed how a simple, innocent question can be taken in ways unimagined. And so, I authentically respond to the words unspoken; reading between the lines. It isn’t what people say that reveals true character. It is in reading between the lines, watching body language and actions that allow transparency; something very difficult to discern in black and white email.
I used to be the person that loved a good debate; sparking conversations that were meant to question or stir the pot. I enjoyed word play and finding hidden meanings beneath. But these days I appreciate transparency. Words are often misread and misconstrued and often feelings are hurt. I have found that people, myself included, choose to withdraw than to do the work to make things clear. It was in this process that I discovered those who debated the details and missed the long view and those who glossed over the minutiae and chose the long view.
I choose to take the long view. To accept saying and receiving the words; the good and the bad, to invest in the future. When egos are set aside it is the ones who reveal their true characters that come out ahead. It has been humbling to realize how gracious people are and how wrong and judgmental I, too, can be. But I work to fix those things; swimming upstream against the current to get it right.
I am getting my ducks-in-a-row. To filter and organize through all aspects of my life to discover where I am and to find ways to grow and progress.
I consider the things that I admire or inspire. Music, books, deep conversations with people. The band director who motivates two-hundred high schoolers, the authors that make me question the status quo, the walks and conversations with friends about mortality, religion and relationships. The hugs and love of children and hubs, who love me; full-moon yelling, ruffled feathers and all.
I must set aside the ego that demands reciprocity. The one that refuses to accept anything less than I can offer. The judgmental one. What matters to me most is not something tangible, like the wood floors I covet, the twenty-year old body I will never realistically attain or the most perfect children. It is in knowing my purpose, in not being stagnant, in offering a legacy (primarily to my children). I have a high moral standard. I want my kids to be authentic, contributing and humble members of society; offering love and kindness to all. This morning I realized, I had low tolerance for those who do not think this way. Just because I am transparent with who I am doesn’t mean I am accepting of who others are.
I strive to progress; to open the stop gap that has kept me stagnant for five years. I must let this ego of reciprocity and judgment go.
Those who truly inspire me take hard risks and put themselves out there. They don’t take the harder stance when it is convenient; they choose to do it each and every day. An inspiring person works with adverse conditions and makes others want to work for them; creating lemonade out of lemons. Inspiring people have purpose and know, not imagine or dream, but know that the result is attainable. And if the result doesn’t happen, they take the blame. But most importantly, those who inspire don’t do this for recognition. They do things humbly. Why? Because it has personal meaning for them. It gives them a sense of contribution; of self-worth.
I aspire for these things, not for others to follow my lead, but for myself to motivate each and every day. To step out into the cold dark at 5:23 AM when I’d rather pull the blankets over my head. To reply to the email, not to place blame or explain my position, but to affirm and acknowledge. I cannot control how others react to my actions. I cannot let my ego get the best of me, to be right. I can only try my best to be authentic and transparent every day and hope that others will accept and acknowledge who I am. I hug the baffled hubs as he walks through the office; having no idea where my mind has went. I am grateful for this break-through and I allow him to tell me, I told you so.
I flail upstream out of my walls and comfort zone; to not go with the flow and to take the long view. The idioms carry me as I get my ducks in a row and let the ego flow up and over, like water off a duck’s back. Progress.