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Monday, May 18, 2009

Launch A Counter Attack!

You can be as crazy as you want to be. In fact, your ego might feel threatened or diminished as you read this. You might be saying, "who does this clown think he is?" "What credentials does he have?" That ego of mine is no different. It struggles for survival and it will deny it's own existence. It doesn't want me to examine it or uncover it. "Take your rigorous honesty out of here, I am running this show!" The ego is very real and make no mistake, I have yet to meet anyone that doesn't have one.

I love to poke fun at this insanity. My own insanity. Let me set the table for you. I grew up in a mining town. I am completely ego identified with a "labor union, working stiff" type of upbringing. I have acquired faulty beliefs and thus an ego that says the working class is oppressed, rich people are the enemy, and that hard work is all that matters. I absolutely detest dishonesty, pretentious and materialistic people. Labels as it turns out. Faulty beliefs.

I am now completely armed with the knowledge that labeling and judging people is insane. I recognize these faulty beliefs. There is an internal struggle in my mind for control between my new conscious self and my old controlling false ego and belief systems. I will not take anything personally.

Thus in early 2008, I find myself invited to a lavish party in Manhattan. It is a completely pretentious affair, a birthday party. The rich and famous are there. There are dishonest, materialistic, and rich people in attendance who have never worked a day in their lives. Some are very well educated. The party of course involves a jazz band and a free bar stocked with only the best booze.

I am mentally prepared. My attack plan is simple. Come in, keep your mouth shut, smile a lot, and let these people be who they are. None of it is personal. My ego has other ideas. It says, "we hate these types of people." "They are the enemy!" Let's beat them over the heads with our superior intelligence and cut them down to size." That is the insanity with which I took my seat that evening.

Everyone is well dressed and nice. They have been friends a long time. Some are pretty well tuned and working on their third or fourth drink as I arrive. The economy is rolling and it is college football bowl season. The current topic is Ivy League Schools, which college the kids are going to-both here and abroad, and who owns how many homes and where.

My ego says, "see I told you, these people are who we thought they were." I smile a lot. I tell my ego to shut up. I pray these Yale and Brown graduates don't ask me where I went to school. I smile a lot, I am an outsider. The table hostess tries to include me in the conversation. She is just being nice. She asks, "so Brian, do you have any kids?" My ego says, "she is prying, tell her you had two kids and that you killed them in a fit of rage and buried them in a vacant lot next to your house, that'll shut her up." I smiled weakly and replied, "no." Intent on including me in the current conversation she asks who I'm with, where I am from, and where did you go to school? My ego says, "does this woman ever stop?" I humbly answer the questions and try to elaborate a little to be friendly. When she inquires, "Idaho State, where is that?" I tell her it's in in Pocatello, Idaho. She gets this weird look on her face. My ego says, "the woman is absolutely clueless-ask her if she gets outside much!" I say, "well, we're a division two school and our football team is horrible." "Most folks haven't heard of us." There are other listeners. I smile some more. Thankfully, she is in over her head, recognizes this, and smiles back. She relents. My ego says, "I wonder if she had a boob job, ask her that!" I smile some more.

The band starts up. My ego says, "you are a crappy dancer, what are you going to do when someone asks you to dance?" Thankfully, most people are as terrified as I am. No one dances except a few who can actually dance or are so intoxicated by this time, they don't care how they look.

I smile a lot. Then it happens. One of the guys at the table starts talking about some cops who have killed someone. How cops are merciless killers and always get away with it. They shot this guy 46 times. He doesn't know who I am. He turns and shakes his head and asks my opinion. I am well aware of the case. My ego screams, "launch a counterattack!" "Defend your tribe and honor!" A veritable cavalcade of options presents itself to me. Do I say that all people are entitled to innocence until proven guilty? Do I say, all we have is a belief based on media accounts? Do I explain to him that a bunch of very scared police officers fired every round that they had in a phenomenon that has been studied since the OK Corral? Do I defend my tribe? What purpose would that serve? He would feel diminished, less than, perhaps foolish. In the two seconds it takes to process this information, I answer in the most selfless way I know how.

"You may be right, I'm anxious to see what the grand jury says about it."

My ego says, "you complete chicken shit, what has happened to you?" I say, "I am wrestling control from you. I win, you lose."

I am the only one smoking outside that evening. Of course. I am wondering how we all acquire these crazy belief systems. These folks are just trying to live their lives. They are fully aware of the judgments others cast upon them, yet they feel justified in doing the same thing. I call my friend. He is proud of me. We just might make a man out of you yet. Go take a walk, he says, go back and make sure your date enjoys herself. I walked through Soho that night, lost in all of this insanity and I cover a mile of so.

When I get back, my gal is ready to go. She asks me if I enjoyed myself, I told her "yes." My ego says, "liar." You can be as crazy as you want to be ego-but from now on, I'm calling the shots. Get used to it. Score tonight, Brian 2, Ego 0. I may get the hang of this yet.

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