My Ego and I by Alexander “Bodi” Hallet [Guest Wrecker]
March 20, 2012 2 Comments
One day last week I was feeling particularly down on myself, as happens from time to time. I went on a long run up in the mountains of Colorado, came back, and wrote down my thoughts. I rarely journal, and even more rarely make any entries public. But I thought maybe this particular string of words may help some relate and let go of some of their own weight, so I decided to post it. Here it is.
I’ve been feeling shitty today. I used to get mad at myself for feeling bad when so many people in the world actually have real problems or have it worse…and then feel more guilty for feeling bad which would make me more mad at myself, and the downward spiral would continue. I don’t do that anymore. That’s good.
But I do get down on myself. I feel like I’ve hardly accomplished a thing that I want to, but the truth is that isn’t true. I have. I used to dream of touring, now I’ve done it many times over. I used to look forward to one day meeting or making a song with Micheal Larsen, and I did both, as well as touring with him and developing a friendship…I used to hope for an album of my own, for fans who knew my words, for the message that I feel compelled to share getting out there. I’ve accomplished a lot of these goals, thanks in equal part to my drive to make them happen and to countless amazing people who helped allow the possibility by being supportive, genuine, and a friend. I think the reason I feel unproductive or not as prolific as I would like is two-fold.
One is that I am plagued with an “on to the next” mentality when it comes to accomplishments. I don’t take stock of where I’ve been or what I’ve done, but rather focus on what I haven’t done. That can be good in that it helps motivate, but not when it’s viewed without taking the past into consideration. Then it becomes a burden, it becomes an overwhelming list of “I need to do this, this, that, and those…” and I become incapacitated and drowned.
The other is that it’s comparison to what others have accomplished, especially people with whom I’ve worked. Started with Budo, then Macklemore, then Grieves, then a host of people in Seattle even though I never lived there I lived near enough to the scene to feel like a static outsider looking in. That comparison causes envy. That envy causes me to spend hours looking at how many plays they have on youtube, or how many fans on Facebook, or how vocal their listeners are, and hating myself for not having the numbers that they have and resenting them for having what I want. Or, at least, what I think I do. But why do I want it? I don’t want fame for fame’s sake. Honestly, the idea of being a public figure scares the hell out of me. I want what “they” have because they have a bigger audience and are influencing more people with their message. And that’s what I want. To get out there as much as I possibly can. But then, that’s partly a product of the ego.
My ego, and by ego I just mean my sense of self, the idea of “me” that everyone has, is what causes envy, what causes self doubt, to feel unproductive, to feel fear, and pretty much every other negative emotion. It’s what causes me to react if someone talks badly about me personally or artistically, or partly believe what they say. What causes me to want to reach a bigger and bigger and bigger audience, to always want the next, to always think there’s bigger and better and to not be able to simultaneously take stock and appreciate what I’ve done while still aspiring to greater heights in a healthy way.
And this goes far beyond music, that was just an easy example of it. This spills over into my daily life, too. This battle with my ego. I see athletes with six packs and biceps as big as my quads. I remember the words of one silly ex and question my masculinity, or some dude in a porno and feel inadequate. And then think I don’t have “it” because I don’t have that, even if what I have is something good. So then I worry about taking steps to achieving these things, without stopping to ask if they’re really necessary or why I want them in the first place. And when that happens, I’m so consumed by “I need this then that then I can do this and then…” and map out fitness programs and nutrition outlines repeatedly. I study how to live without really living it, and I don’t give myself a break if I turn out less than my ideal. I don’t take full stock of what I have, even if it’s more than I could ask for and something by which to be humbled. And while I’m thankful beyond words for what I do have, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes resent what I don’t. Instead, I could simply realize that being in shape and having good health is a blessing, that the ex had issues of her own that she admittedly took out on me, and that having a healthy and functioning penis is something to be thankful for, baseball bat or not.
I really, really, really believe and, I feel now, have experienced that the ego, the “me” and the “I” is what’s at the core and root cause of all of these negative emotions and afflictions and self-doubt and turmoil. I’ve read about the “wisdom of no ego” and similar teachings from lots of sages and teachers and great historical minds and religious figures. I mean, that was the crux of Charlie’s last sermon: that his life wasn’t about him. It was about all of us. Getting to that stage on a daily basis will, I think, eradicate for all intents and purposes these feelings. It will help me to feel free, liberated, and lighter. I don’t know that it will ever be completely gone. (I think that’s what enlightenment is). But I think it can get close. And I think that’s done one day at a time. When I get to feeling depressed or envious or doubting, to simply label it. When I think, “Shit, so and so’s new music video has 30,000 views in ONE DAY. Cool. Mine has 7,000. What other videos do they…” and then cut it off right there by recognizing it’s just an ego thing. When I think “I haven’t even released this album yet, I haven’t done a thing…” ego. Just labeling it, recognizing it for what it is. The more I do it, the more it loses it’s power. The less I will judge or envy others. The more I let go, the more what matters will continue to become apparent.
A lot of the defense mechanism of the ego is a byproduct of fear. And fear is an overbearingly strong, but ultimately foundation-less emotion. Without an ego to fuel it, fear would not exist. And without a fear of what I haven’t done or accomplished, there would be no ego to drive it along. No ego, no fear. No me, only this.
And that’s not to say that I don’t matter, or that my happiness is irrelevant. I do, and it matters. But I can still take care of myself while not placing all of the negative connotations of the me with it. I can still be me without the ego.
Alexander Hallet is a hip hop artist and philanthropist currently residing in Fort Collins, Colorado. He has performed under the monikers Alexipharmic, and more recently Bodi. He is also the CEO of the label Elephant Memories LLC, which donates 50 percent of all it’s earnings to go toward charities that are manifested by the never-ending desire to create a global world that is more compassionate and aware than its current state. He has toured with the fellow hip hop icons Sadistik and Eyedea. An essay about his experiences with the late Michael “Eyedea” Larsen appears in the charity based book Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music. This blog originally appeared on his own personal experimentation blog entitled Good Side Of Bad on September 6th, 2011.