Such a small word with such great consequences.
It comes in all colors, shapes and sizes. It disregards race, ethnicity, gender, social status, language barriers, profession, age, marital status, religion, education, it disregards it all. The mighty ego sits at your footstool and gnaws on your heels, slowly and delicately, it gnaws until it cripples you. The mighty ego is an invisible evil capable of running down kingdoms, eating away rulers, destroying marriages, and blinding leaders in all walks of life.
Once upon a time ego was nothing but another invisible creature like many others walking alongside humankind. It served a purpose, it helped individuals keep a basic sense of self, identity, and pride for who they were and what they could do for one another. Each individual’s ego had to remain a certain size, small, to avoi d bumping into other people’s egos at the market, the park, the workplace or the bar. No one was certain, but it was said that if two egos bumped into each other their human owners would be overtaken by rage and remain in an irate state for an indefinite period of time. No one wanted to see this, so they made sure to fill up the space in between egos with love and harmony. Love of course carried with it respect and all these other goodies that allowed humans to live closely while keeping their egos at bay.
Earth saw the birth of a man on a summer day of a year long ago forgotten. This was no ordinary man, he had a special gift granted by the gods, unparalleled beauty. The gods wanted to grant humans a living monument in honor of the perfect harmony they had achieved on earth, therefore perfect Narcissus was sent to live among them. As any human Narcissus was granted an ego of his own, a simple ego that walked by his feet. Humans perceived his beauty as a gift and treated him as such. Narcissus loved humans too and admired their beauty which was as diverse as the colors in the rainbow.
Strangely, when Narcissus was paid a compliment his ego would nibble on his toes, and it felt good … his ego learned this trick and felt silently empowered.
Narcissus’ ego grew a little more than normal which was an unprecedented event. In an effort to guard it and avoid a collision, his pride grew a little too. Narcissus started feeling ill, he could not sleep, his soul could find no rest. Suddenly he thought compliments were not meant to be gifts but rather taxes owed to him for walking among imperfect humans while being a perfect creation of the gods. His thoughts were erratic, his mood was unstable, his body would shiver with cold then tremble with fever, it was like an infection was eating his bones … his ego was no longer nibbling his toes, it was gnawing at his heels.
In a moment of lucidity he decided to submerge his body in a crystal river hoping the infection would leave his body. He took his cape and ran through town but his ego had grown very large, as did his pride to protect it. He disdained those who payed him compliments, thoughts of grandeur were running through his head, he felt like a giant waltzing over meaningless ants and talked as such.
He reached the forest and ran as fast as he could but his heels were growing weak and his steps became gawky. Just before reaching the river his legs gave in and he violently fell to the ground. The world stood still. His eyes caught a glimpse of his reflection in the water and he discovered a sick love, love for his own image, love for his reflection, love for his ego. Ego too discovered something in that reflection, it discovered a great power which could only be unlocked by growing above the standard size humans had allowed for egos. The more Narcissus stared at his reflection the more his ego grew and his pride with it. Narcissus was unable to take his eyes from his own image and died on that river bank and his pride with him. His ego ran rampant through the streets of the city boastfully announcing to all other egos that if they grew just a little more humankind would be subjugated to their rule.
As egos uncontrollably grew so did pride trying to avoid a catastrophe but things were so out of hand even the gods turned their back on earth. Humans grew angry at each other, new types of feelings took over the earth. Anxiety kept people awake at night devising ways to protect their egos. People now cared about their own needs and no one else’s, therefore selfishness started roaming the earth with a pretense known as survival of the fittest. There was no antidote for the plague that ego had brought to the world. The only solution was to kill each human’s ego. But egos were very persuasive, they talked their way out of death sentences and promised great rewards to those who let them live.
In light of this disgrace and the evident coming of the end of the world as humans knew it, a group of individuals made a pact. They met on a desolated beach at sunset and sacrificed their egos out of love for one another. They knew that society would deem them fools and insane and perhaps take their lives. Instead of going back to that agonizing city, they built a raft and disappeared in the horizon.
Thousands of years later the earth is still dominated by some of the principles that destroyed that society created by the gods. In sophisticated ways our egos still run this earth. If you doubt the nature of this story let me ask you, what happens when someone touches your ego other than to pay it compliments? Doesn’t your pride get inflated and comes out to the rescue? Aren’t you taken over by a feeling less than pleasant? Don’t you feel the eager need to defend your ego and guard it with thousands of reasons? If that is the case then my story is true.
The good news is that those individuals who disappeared on a raft created a world beyond the sun. That world is run by principles perpendicular to ours. Every few years a citizen of that world comes to our world in hopes of finding people willing to establish a society like theirs on this earth. See, their desire is to come back home and live as we used to live in the pre-ego times.
A few individuals have decided to go against the odds and take up the challenge. They sacrifice their egos and become leaders seeking a greater purpose than their own. You will recognize these individuals because of the way they talk, act and move around the earth.
If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon one you will notice they don’t go on and on about themselves, their grandeur and magnificence. These individuals are unique as they do not fear promoting those around them; as a matter of fact it has been said they take pleasure in helping others grow. These individuals are crazy enough to lead by example and put other’s interests before their own. Talk to them about their ego and they will laugh, they claim they need their heels healthy as leaders need to be in constant movement. The best of them are humble and recognize that leadership is not about themselves but about those who follow them. These leaders bring the best out of those around them, these are the people who come from beyond the sun.
Sadly, much like Narcissus many of us sit by a river bank protecting our ego when there is so much to be done on this earth.
I have had the blessing of seeing many of those leaders up close. Do not be mistaken, they are not made in a specific mold. Some of them are teachers, others are coaches, executives, preachers, mothers, fathers, mechanics, inventors, musicians, writers, cooks, janitors, secretaries, soldiers … They too come in all shapes and sizes without regard of their race, ethnicity, gender, social status, language, trade, marital status, etc.
They move our world.