I woke early this morning to the sound of my grandmother's alarm. I rolled over on the air mattress in my mom's office and covered my head. Jet-lag hit hard. I had planned on sleeping late. It's Tuesday and last Thursday was the last time I had a full night's sleep. As I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep my head whirred with noise. Not the outer: my grandmother walking to the kitchen or the heating vent crackling as hot water ran through, but the inner junk noise that's a constant companion. I'm sure you know the voice. The one that never shuts up. It makes to-do lists and causes worry that there isn't enough time. It logs the problems of life and complains about the injustices. It swings from anxiety to sadness then tries to boost itself with an unrealistic idea of what life should be. Fun stuff.
As I sat listening to its familiar garble I stepped back and realized that it was almost separate from me. This voice that seems to be an authority on why things are wrong never talks about what is right. Who really is this voice? Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth calls it the ego - the ever present complainer and seeker of misfortune.
I'm really bored with this ego and I'd like it to shut-up.
I stood and looked out the window at the backyard covered in white powder, the bare trees decorated with bright-colored birdhouses, and to the sun rising behind my grandfather's maple sugar shack. I took a deep breath and centered my mind to the present. The noise of the ego tried to fight, but as I took in the beauty of the backyard it's voice deadened. I thought to the symphony I went to on Saturday night. The memory of the clear sound of the chorus singing, "Alleluia" vibrated my body. The concert tickets had been a surprise Christmas gift along with two beautiful lenses for my camera.
I can't control everything, I thought. Life will never be exactly what I expect it to be and all the planning in the world won't cause less missteps or pain. But letting go and enjoying every moment, being present without expectations of what life will bring, will free me of the worry that I create. The anxiety I make for myself doesn't solve any problems. And if I plan every detail of what I want, then I leave out room for the wonderful surprises such as seeing a symphony I didn't even know I wanted to see.
I have my dreams that I will actively pursue, but if I allow life to unfold without making more muck for myself then I get to spend more time enjoying the beauty of what is happening instead of crying about what I wish was taking place or worrying what might hurt me.
If only this process was easy. Why were we born with egos?
At least I can give it a try.