20 November 2012

The House of Usher

The ego is an exitless, windowless room in which I can move about freely, to a point. I have built it brick by brick through a million interactions over time. Each brick is a response: to my environment, to my fears, to threats, to education, to discourse, to beauty and ugliness, to prop up my own failings.

It's a room of my own construction, built not just to contain my self but to keep everything else out. No stormy weather, but also no light is admitted, no fresh air. I've been in the room so long that I no longer notice that it's there and I no longer remember what is outside... or what's within, for that matter. I just assume it is and always has been.

This understanding of the ego as a room is what allows me to analyze my self. It's apart from me, contains me, but also limits and constricts me. It is the I that thinks about me.

It is only when I move closely to the walls, and discover their limits, that I begin to see fissures. There are cracks that I suddenly find my self digging into with bare hands. There are loose bricks that, with a gentle push, fall away from the wall, letting in beams of light that expose other loose bricks and fractures.

Once I've started the process of demolition, it's easy to second-guess my self. Destroying my protective space admits risk. Is the risk worth it? Will the whole thing fall on my head and destroy me with it?

But, the more light I admit and can see the contents of the room, I see that the ego is not a room that contains me. It is me. The room itself is empty. If I am the room, then I am destroyed when it is destroyed, and doesn't that frighten me?

Only if I believe the room is all there is of me. What if I'm not just the room, but the house the room is in? And the neighborhood the house is in. The city that the neighborhood is in. The state that the city is in. The nation that the state is in. The continent that the nation is in. The planet that the continent is in... If I am everything, then I am no one thing.

The ego is a House of Usher that, with some work, crumbles under its own weight.  With its destruction, the illusions of my self as both contents and container are shattered.

The thing that I have learned to call me is but a tiny light particle in a vast, fiery sun that, once contained by the ego I built, has come to believe that it is something else.

I am the room. I am the cracks. I'm the darkness of the room and the light entering through the cracks. The foundation of the house. The smoke of its chimney. The air into which the smoke rises.

If I can just eliminate me, I could be so much more.

1 comment:

Matt Bennett said...

The bricks are legos, btw.