The ego is our sense of self-importance. It gives us our personal identity and serves as a compass for how we see and interact with our world.
It’s commonplace in many circles to view the ego as something terrible that needs to be eradicated. When anger steps in amongst other inferior emotions, the tendency is to blame the ego. I wondered why?
The question led me to dive deeper into the ego.
-What is it? -Where is it located? -Does it even exist?
Host Stephen Colbert asked, “What do you think happens when we die, Keanu Reeves?” He said, “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.”
There is a type of magnetism that words leaders, artists, successful entrepreneurs, and athletes embody. Many find themselves attracted to these figures because they embark on endeavors where they are able to tap into flow states of presence and mystify the masses with their craft.
These figures garner attention from the world and are adored. Some enjoy the limelight that comes with fame and prestige. I imagine the feeling akin to a heroin-like addiction where praise and attention become their own type of opioid.
There are a handful of people in the limelight that I look up to. Keanu Reeves is one such figure. If I ever get the opportunity to talk to him, I won’t be rushing for an autograph or a picture. I’ll just say thank you.
Below are a few profound words he’s shared on different mediums and how they have affected me.
“From the time you take your first breath, you become eligible to die. You also become eligible to find your greatness and become the one warrior” David Goggins
Ever since I first heard former Navy Seal, David Goggins on Joe Rogan’s podcast, I’ve been a fan of his philosophy. Without truly knowing, his experiences have led him down the path of an almost warrior-type monk-like figure. I will be referencing his words throughout this article.
“The Buddha famously said that life is suffering. I’m not a Buddhist, but I know what he meant and so do you. To exist in this world, we must contend with humiliation, broken dreams, sadness, and loss. That’s just nature. Each specific life comes with its own personalized portion of pain. It’s coming for you. You can’t stop it. And you know it.” – David Goggins
His book, Can’t Hurt Me has left a profound impact on me. His story is one of extreme hardship, struggle, and vulnerability. His philosophy is about taking total accountability for your life and being honest with yourself.
“Compassion is the basis of morality.”― Arthur Schopenhauer
What is Empathy
Empathy means to have the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Although empathy is a beautiful feeling to convey, it has broken me. I would feel the pain of another, to such a degree that I would make it mine.
This pain would manifest itself in anxiety, fear, and worry.
I would live in this pain, even long after the pain wasn’t needed anymore. It was a type of self-deprecating torture of the mind.
Like many, my life has been wrapped around heartache and as someone who has been empathetic without trying, it has taken a toll on my soul.
As with the years, wisdom grows. However, the turbulent waters only become calm if one is steadfast in understanding the self.
A Story on Empathy
To take parlance from the Dali-lama, there is a story of a young man caught between a few boulders who is suffocating. A stranger sees that he’s in trouble, so he practices empathy and decides to lodge himself between a few boulders too, so he can suffocate as well.
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” -T.S Elliot
Gratitude comes to my mind when I think about my life. Like many, I want to make the most of this rare experience.
In an episode of the Joe Rogan show, critically acclaimed director, Guy Ritchie, who’s well-known for movies like Snatch, The Gentlemen, and Sherlock Holmes, told the biblical story of the Prodigal Son in typical Guy Ritchie fashion.
Whether it’s finding purpose in our lives or trying to find clarity in our experiences, the parable of the Prodigal Son may give us deeper insights into those unanswered questions that we ask ourselves.
The parable begins with three characters. A father and his two sons. In the tale, the younger son demands his portion of his father’s inheritance. His plea is answered, and the father gives him his share of the estate.
The younger son, being the wild, feral and unruly son he is, becomes a vagabond, travels to a different country, and indulges in every conceivable pleasure until he squanders all his inheritance.
Down on his luck and in the midst of a famine, he becomes destitute and starts working as a pig farmer. He has a stark revelation when he realizes that the livestock he tends to is eating better than him.
He travels back to his home country and begs his father to take him back.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it.” — Benjamin Button
What’s my purpose? I’m sure it’s a question that’s crossed your mind at least once. It crosses my mind to this day. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
While on the search, I’ve done a lot. I worked in account management for a Fortune 100 company, and a Silicon Valley startup. I’ve done freelance work, where I’ve taught myself to make videos and how to write engaging content. I’ve started an eCommerce business creating delicious spices and cooking videos. I’ve even invited strangers to my house, rearranged my apartment like a restaurant, and cooked for them.
If that’s not enough, I worked for Caviar, delivering meals on my bike when I lived in San Fransisco. It was fun, except when I had to dart across the city which boasts a lengthy seven miles to deliver Thai food at 1 a.m. Needless to say, I have buns of steel. I’ve had so many jobs, you’d think I was Jamaican.
I don’t share this to boast. All this experience and I still am no closer to finding my purpose.
What Is Your Purpose?
Maybe your purpose is seeking purpose and never finding it. Maybe you found your purpose already. If you did, you’re lucky.
The cops pulled me over. I knew it was bad, although I didn’t know exactly what I did. It was dusk and the air was restless. The mood of that evening reminded me of the first episode of the Wonder Years when Kevin went for a walk, only to find Winnie in the forest after her brother had just died in Vietnam. Except with this story, there is no comforting end and no Percy Sledge to ease my woes.
Instead of coming to my driver’s side window and reading me my Miranda rights, the cop opened my back door, sat down as if a taxi passenger, and read them. An unusual practice I thought — but who am I to discern protocol at this point.
I was being taken to jail still not knowing what I did. I looked to my passenger side once more as a beckoning call for someone to save me. I could have sworn someone was next to me earlier.