Ego Check Chiang Mai
Imagine standing in a car park in the middle of Chiang Mai, Thailand, clutching a coffee pot to your chest like it is the last line of defence against emotional oblivion (it is) and choking back hot, salty tears of frustration, rage and (right there at the back) of recognition and self compassion. The man in front of you is someone you only met 30 minutes earlier and your body is bathed in sweat from the heat, the humidity of a 35degree Thai summer’s afternoon and the stresses of the mental and emotional gymnastics that you have willingly walked into and are patently out of practise with.
It should feel strange to radically shift gear from the superficial financial dealings of acquiring a second hand French Press to a discussion on the nature of Self, of the Ego and the creation of problems I personally have with the fact that I think I am intelligent but am in fact just totally besotted (in the worst, most blinkered way possible) with my own capacity for Ego and it’s ability to lift me out of the ground swell of the ‘norm’ and ‘elevate’ me to higher ground.
At least that was the pronouncement of the unknown French Press purveyor … and to be honest, I confess to being guilty as charged.
The discussion with this unnamed, never-again-seen European was as intense as it was swift. Somehow we immediately interacted with a level of tacit, non verbal agreement akin to synchronised high divers, went through a couple of preliminary warm-ups and then just leapt into the emotionally unknown together. To say it was a profound experience is wrong. It was completely normal … well normal in the sense that my life over the past few years has been filled with interactions that are unexpected and that ‘unexpected’ has become the norm.
However his level of interaction showed me just how much confidence in my own ability to cope with my internal, emotional life I have integrated more recently. I wasn’t afraid to dive in with this unknown man, I wasn’t afraid of myself and a consideration that I couldn’t take care of myself emotionally didn’t even cross my mind. All indicators that things have changed for me in the more recent past.
Chiang Mai offered so many of these instances for discovery and growth. A chance to choose from a variety of dance being the most consistent. Biodanze, danceMandela, ecstatic dance, naked dance … all opportunities for me to express myself and my femininity in ways which previously I had generally avoided and which, specifically, I have found more difficult to give space to whilst focusing on cycling, camping and the careful navigation of individual interactions with (specifically) men whilst solo traveling.
Down time in Thailand, allowing my body and my mind to recover from the trauma of being sick, gave me a much needed space to interact with people who are open to expressing their emotional and spiritual selves and who are keen to share their thoughts and insights with other interested individuals.
Hence the impromptu discussion about my ego.
The idea went, as much as I could grasp it, that every time I focus my intellect on understanding a situation, that it is through this lens (the ‘elevated’ intellectual) that experience the world, I am creating distance and separation from the very aspects that I am wanting to bring together. The ego of ‘I’ creates a mediating buffer from which source or soul is separated from other …
And it was at this point that my tears of frustration started to flow. Every time I tried to verbalise a level of understanding the man in front of me stopped me and pointed at my ego’s dance to maintain control of the situation. How to then step outside myself (ah … the myself that identifies as me!) Confused yet at the circular prowling of this caged beast?! … Confused and Frustrated? … Very much so and as a result the defences started to go up.
For no other reason than he gave me an opportunity to experience this interaction and look at myself, that aspect of my ego, I am grateful to this unknown man . It wasn’t fun and certainly wasn’t pretty but he stepped up and held his space, neither demeaning nor reassuring me but letting me do what I needed … which in this instance was admit to anger, push on for a while and then call ‘time out’ when I had had enough.
I left the car park, cycled for a few minutes and found a side street to let off steam. Which for me meant have a good cry and allow the tension to dissipate. On reaching an equilibrium and being able to cycle back to my current abode I weaved my way through traffic giggling outrageously and with tears of amazement and hilarity rolling down my face.
Its not every day an opportunity like that comes along … is it?!