Egos get a bad rap. Most certainly it’s my ego that urges me to do a reading in the iconic Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. Mingling my words with legendary authors was my goal. Then I will feel like a “real author.” Thwarted attempts to read inside the bookshop leads to my “Occupy Shakespeare and Company Movement” A small band of Unfolding in Paris workshop participants join me in my adventure. And I did read there, but in front of the store not in it.
Gutsy ideas often teach important lessons.
This one did!
My Parisian reading is fueled by a part of me that doesn’t feel smart enough, clever enough or good enough and longs for evidence that I am smart enough, clever enough, and good enough.
Egos look for validation.
On the day of the reading a few people are mingling in front of the bookshop when we arrive. The sign, announcing the author who will talk inside the bookshop later, stands propped by the door. I step in front of it and begin.
Heartfelt appreciation washes over me as I read to twenty or so people, mostly women, who listen attentively. Afterwards, one woman walks up to me. She looks me in the eye and says, “Thank you for doing that.” Her response touches me. I do not know what my message means to her, but it does mean something. I am sure of that.
Acclaim was not what I received. My ego was deflated. Yet, my heart jumps for joy. Luckily my efforts to be anointed by this storied bookshop failed. Denied access let me discover my heart’s desire – to touch the hearts of others and to encourage them to risk.
I’m rewarded with a richer outcome than I imagined.
My moment in front of that famous bookshop is a treasured memory. Gratitude is what I now feel for my ego. It got me moving. Egos focus on what we want rather than the ensuing reception.
Egos drive us to act. Hearts draw us into action. What’s the difference?
Egos drive us to…
Chase what we might become
Search for external approval
Attach to the outcomes
Hearts draws us to…
Move from our essence
Trust inner knowing
Detach from the outcome
Sure, I love to move with the purity of my heart’s desire. That doesn’t always happen. Awareness of the difference between ego motivations and heart’s desires is an ongoing process. My true self is revealed in this exploration. This is what I know. Heart longings are tender and often timid. Egos are pushy. Discerning the difference between them requires quiet reflection. Identifying which one I’ve followed frequently comes after the fact. Compassion is called for when my ego has taken me on a little ride. To be sure, some part of me is seeking validation. But sometimes my demanding ego needs to be embraced.
Maybe it even needs to be thanked.