Strip Mining Ego

Disclaimer: As someone who cares deeply about the environment, I am not an advocate for strip mining, however, its definition fits here:

” …involves the removal of a layer of material known as an “overburden” to access buried deposits of useful minerals.”

How thick is my overburden? How deep does it really reach? Have I never really understood the ego and its crafty ways?

About 3 weeks into my life here in Washington, I discovered that I wasn’t exactly going to fall into a perfect life. Under illusion, I quickly became frustrated by the lack of job opportunities in my field, and even more, by my lack of certain qualifications for almost every job I applied for. And I got angry. Pissed. Complaining frequently about my range of experience and education; how could they dare to overlook me?

I’m employed now, but not where I thought I would be, not doing what I thought I would. Working now in a menial job that is surely stripping off layers of ego. A job that causes me to reflect on my definition of myself, and get a glimpse of my righteousness about how I think I should be seen. And its scarier than I thought. Thick sheets of self image doing their best to lay waste to blankets of self.

For some time now, I’ve lost my connection to spirit, which is part of the reason for moves westward. A vision quest of sorts, a chance to re-connect. Rolling out my mat the other morning to get back to my regular yoga practice showed me just how broken I am as I had trouble keeping track of my body, a hard time feeling the energy of it, difficulty in recognizing that the limb in front of me was my own. Time on my mat, usually a sanctuary, now felt strange and unfamiliar.

Then there was the mountain I was determined to hike, and when it showed me how large the overburden loomed; how thick and crusty the layers had become, and how there was no other answer for inequities other than that I was useless, worthless, unable. Words my ego chanted in my head, whispered in my ear, and attempted to etch into my heart. Because although I had hiked up nearly 2 miles of that mountain (4 mies to the top) it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough, not for the mountain, not for employers, not for anything.  I was shit. I sobbed over the disappointment of me.

“Who are you? What are you?” the overburden asks. “Such a loser, can’t even hike up a mountain…”

Until I screamed STOP. Stop talking to yourself this way! This is unacceptable. You would NEVER allow anyone else to say these things to you. Stop. Right. Now. This is not allowed. 

And I sensed a layer of overburden shed.

Tattooed on my back is a quote from Anais Nin:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

To uncover the deepest, most authentic parts of me, I absolutely must shed the outer stratum. Climb through the muck towards the light to bloom. The blossoming will not be easy, but will happen inch by inch, step by step, as the overburden gives way.

I’ve been here before. I’ve sunk before. I’m familiar with layers of crap and the how firmly they hold. But I also know that a flame, once lit, is not so easily extinguished. A soul, once found, not so easily lost.

It’s there, beneath the rock, blossoming.

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