Tipi and Ego: My Journey
This is not my best writing, but I feel like I need to get this out there so I can get back to work on my other projects. The reason I want this out at all is because of my desire to use whatever lessons I encounter in my life to assist others’ in their own walks. We are so alike, and yet we’re so often close-mouthed about sharing our struggles and questions. Moreover, I counsel others in transformation – and I may be called to make another of my own. Maybe someone has ideas that I can use as I do so.
Earlier this week, I found myself in the emergency room of a hospital. I’ve lived with asthma all my life, but at two am on Tuesday, after two hours of unsuccessful self-treatment, I’d yelled to Danielle in a staccato burst of rapid-fire instruction to call an ambulance. I didn’t have enough breath to take one step towards my truck, and I knew I was going to drop if I didn’t get assistance. No way Danielle is moving a passed-out version of me.
A few minutes later paramedics arrived, stuck a breathing apparatus on my face, set up an IV, cut my shirt off me, and took me to the ER.
Sitting on a bed as a CPAP laced with meds forced air in to my lungs, my vision would swim for a moment and then it would hit me. I’m in an emergency room. What the hell? And then, the same message that I’ve been hearing in increasing volume for a few months would hit me as well: I may be called to re-engage more fully in a culture I detest so I can manage my health better. And that there may be some ego around my decision to ignore that Voice.
Yeah, but, “I live in a tipi, full-time.”
I’ve used this information, if not this sentence, dozens and dozens of times to illustrate my belief that modern humans have become over-dependent on convenience. The message usually splits from there into two messages.
First, this dependence has cut us off from the Earth, and that there are dire spiritual consequences for humanity that are easy to see because of it.
Secondly, once we count on convenience to the extent that we have, we’ll go to war to keep it because we feel entitled to it. We’ll send our young people to die physically or psychologically to preserve ease because we need it like an addict needs a fix. The message is, then, to toughen up, to reconnect to the living Oracle that the Earth is.
I’ve seen the potential ego around this, so I limit who I tell this, and when. But it's a fact that people listen when you’re doing something different. Moreover, information like this is a shoe-horn into a conversation about modern spirituality, or life, or relationships. It’s a portal into soul, an elevator into a person’s depths. I have intimate conversations with total strangers on a regular basis because whether the topic comes up or not, living that close to nature shifts a soul.
It makes one more compassionate, more grateful, more open. Often, strangers leave me with a look of deep thought on their faces because of the conversation we had. I feel I’ve brought something to their day. And personally, I love eschewing modern convenience. Knowing I have this ability makes me feel less a part of the round of war, less dependent, tougher. I feel like everyone should try it, at least once.
Yet, I took advantage of an ER, a crown jewel of modern “convenience.” Worse, sitting on the hospital bed, it occurred to me that the technology all around me has been assisted by the centuries of war in which our nation has so furiously engaged. The triage process for wounded soldiers has evolved, and the tech has migrated away from the battlefield.
All in all, the nurses and staff at St. Charles were amazing, compassionate, efficient – even funny. I’m taking their advice, and their medicine. I don’t like it, but it’s not their advice or meds that bother me as much as what I’m hearing from the most trusted voice I know - the still, small one inside my mind. The one that tells me to keep doing this, and to stay away from that. To me, this is the Voice of Spirit. It’s the Voice of inspired dream, of Helper.
And it’s telling me that it’s time to consider leaving the tipi. Yeah, but… but then what will I do? Rent a house? Give someone who embraces the system my limited money? Pay their mortgage? Play the game? Kill. Me. Now.
After all, “I live in a tipi, full time.”
What do we do when our very concept of ourselves is threatened…or needs to be? When we’re in a situation that we stubbornly refuse to let go, even though it the letting go might be critical to the survival of our souls, if not our bodies? Tipis have been my sanctuaries, my comfort, my homes. And now I have to consider leaving? Then what will I do? If I’m no longer “the tipi guy,” what will I be?
Sometimes the refinement of the soul requires the releasing of our most sacred selves. Even if that aspect of our self-definition has been used for much relief, service and self-care, if we’ve ever prayed to be used by Creator to do as much good as possible in the world, we don’t own any aspect of Self. We’ve given permission to Creator to take it and we have to let it go, if called to do so, no matter how much it’s beloved, no matter how much we think of it. We have to admit that we don’t know everything, that we can’t see down the path very far. That’s why we rely on Spirit. I know that, in my energy work practice, which I do in my tipi, without Spirit I wouldn’t know how to help my friends that come for advice, counsel or healing.
The things to which we grip the tightest are the most apt to be come egoic self-definition. There’s nothing wrong with ego – it’s identification with it that causes problems. So, while I love how I live, I have to, at the very least, be willing to let it go if that’s what’s most beneficial. And it may be time to do that.
Danielle called around to some friends and we’ve found a place to live in town for a week or two while my lungs heal up from this latest serious trauma – maybe the worst I’ve ever experienced related to asthma. I have to admit that it’s nice to have hot water on demand, to shower whenever I want, heat without making a fire or chopping wood and to have a warm kitchen to cook in. Conveniences are, well, convenient. They make life easier, and it may be time to embrace that ease, to attempt to swim this ocean and keep balance while doing so.
At least in the wintertime.
(Artwork: Heather Roth)