Monday, February 25, 2013


Less is more. More kills everything. Think delicacy. Subtlety. Finesse.

I don't know HOW to do less, I think.

But of course, it is too much. Too much sandalwood. Too much patchouli. Too much ylang ylang. I misbehave and leave class and stand in the stairwell with someone talking about healing modalities and spirituality and awakening and protecting one's energy and reading people's auras.

What is going on right there? He points to my chest. I wheeze and cough and mention asthma from thick oils that hang in the aromatherapy class. No, the other thing, in your heart center, the broken part.

And I want to tell him everything that is going on there. The niggling little hurts, meaningless and important, gnawing at me. The gigantic metastasized maladies, hundreds of grey appendices attached to the pulsating green trying to grow through father-pain, boyfriend-pain, seventh grade dance-pain, like ivy choking the living love out of me. My heart center, broken and weeping, radiates for healing. It calls to the shaman in the back of the room. It is this thing I keep explicating and writing and examining three-dimensionally, like a foam core model made with pins, the broken heart of someone who loved without thought of age thirty-nine. And when I turn this poxed heart around, I can see there is something deeply flawed about me. Logically, there must be--to drink the way I drank, to grieve the way I grieved, to misbehave the way I misbehaved. But I cannot pull it out. I cannot find its cause, its source, its origin.

The truthiness of all that he says about my heart center makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I want to blow him off, leave with the broken parts of me jutting out of my chest, poking through skin and weeping infection and heartbreak, pretend it doesn't exist. The vulnerability is nigh-excruciating. I want to run or punch him, but I ground myself and open my heart center even more to his words. This massive ego and very little ego all mixed up in unholy unions in my heart center.

He tells me it is okay, and his name is the same as the baby we lost. He says we are all broken there. That we all seek validation and love and that I can clear it, heal the wounds on myself instead of everyone else around me. And I know what he is suggesting.

Later, I warm my palm chakras and pray for protection and reiki energy drawn up from earth, down from heaven, out my palms, and I lay my hands right between my breasts who feed no children anymore, since a month ago maybe, when Thor just decided that tetita is for babies. I don't miss it. I miss having that one thing that no one else could give them. Boobies and mama cuddles. Now, the children do not notice that I am gone. This weekend with two back-to-back eight hour days of class on aromatherapy. I suppose if I am doing my job right, they should barely know I am here orchestrating every meal and decision and activity and fun time and naptime and diaper change. It just moves swiftly, efficiently, through the day without one thought about what mama is doing, or who she is, or what she is going to have for dinner while the rest of them eat gooey cheesy pasta-y red meat with soy and chocolate and ice cream and bourbon. And I wonder if there is something massively damaged about me and my heart center to want to have someone notice more than my stealthy good mamaing. I hold up that model of my broken heart, and it is all ego, even as I preach about egolessness and hold it as an ideal, or at the very least, the enemy of enlightenment.

Ego. Ego. Ego. Condemned to this life of terribleness, shaking fingers at the eruption of it in conversation, the mention of yourself with more than self-deprecation. When I rant about my lousy, traitorous ego, my sponsor says, "There is a necessary ego when you are an artist. Check it." And that is the part I have been explicating, looking at with my damaged heart center.

Artists have to have a stupid, unconditional, irrational belief in ourselves and our capability. It may be unwarranted to others. They may think, "Who is this person?" Or "That art is not terribly good." And they are welcome to believe such things. Artists cannot concern themselves with that. It's none of their goddamned business honestly, how you engage with their art, or writing. Artists have to embrace that belief in themselves, regardless of what you think. In fact, during the process, I would think that "you" may not even enter their brain. It is a selfish, self-centered, important and necessary self-focused presence.

That doesn't mean artists don't have reservations or insecurities, it just means that there has to be a kind of blind optimism what they are saying is something important and unique. A hope that, in their desperate isolation, the artist belongs to a tribe of people, perhaps not yet known, who will get it, or most of it. That what the artist creates is worth the paper it is created on, or the performance art is more important than that massive ego of theirs. Because this thing the artist creates ceases being theirs the second it is seen, experienced, felt. It is a Zen koan of sorts. The ego must be big so the ego can be small. Another Zen koan of art is, if art is not seen, is it still art?

So, on one hand, there exists this confidence, bravado, arrogance, selfishness, self-centeredness, this large necessary ego. Then the artist releases the work. The same self-consciousness any human being, artist or not, possesses in his or her daily life rises up. More so, now. This thing created without thought of the Other. The entire process strips one bare, raw, open. The experience attaches to your heart center, creates a pock, whispers that you've never been loved enough while at the same time illuminating it. Such a process is the height of vulnerability. Suffering. Then it is a relief. A release from the demands of Muse and creative bedevilments. It forces one to be decisive, done, sure of oneself while embracing that part full of doubt, and fear and insecurity.

There are many things that soothe that self-consciousness--sex, love, conversation, alcohol, drugs, attention from other people, constant need for reassurance that we are worthy through sex, love, conversation, alcohol and drugs. There is no judgment here. No judgment on whether these are good things or bad things, or bad qualities or good qualities. But they work. At least for a little while, and then, your heart is broken wide open, and oozing out into an aromatherapy class for all to absorb and repair. You can rub a little lavender and bergamont. Not too much, just a subtle hint of self-compassion.

What do you think of ego? Artists? Heartbreaks? Is it ever necessary? Or is the ego always out of control?


  1. My heart has been broken recently, by someone I thought was a friend. And I'm not "getting over" it, too devastated, too absorbed in my pain, too afraid to reach out, to trust, to believe in my own worth. Paralyzed by this sense of being what this other person must think I am--a bitch, an insensitive asshole, an ingrate. I have no idea what she thinks of me, really--but is it the ego that wants to speculate? Assign blame, put it all on me, tell me I'm not good enough, there's no use trying. And I can't let go of wanting the outward validation because I just can't give it to myself, not now.

  2. I've been thinking about ego a lot lately. Obviously I don't have the artist perspective on this but there's something equally ego-centric (probably not the right word but I don't want to say egotistical because of the connotation) about believing that I have something so special to offer people that I deserve to be paid with taxpayer dollars.

    I feel like ego and pride got me up off of the floor and moving forward when I didn't think such a thing was even possible. I just handed myself over to it in a blind refusal to give up. But, now I look at my rather unsustainable lifestyle and wonder why I made the choices that I made. Why couldn't I just let go of my old self and give way for something less predictable? Why am I grumbling about the downside of equality into a sinkful of dishes and acting like there's nothing to be done about the plight of the modern woman when all I have to do is stop doing what I'm doing?

    I went through a really intense mental and emotional housecleaning and came out the other end with no real peace because there's laundry and daycare schedules and sequestration. It's hard to apply inner peace to all of these externalities and it's hard not to take them personally.

    Anyway, that probably doesn't answer the question but, in short, my ego raises a glass to yours.

  3. So beautiful. Thank you.


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