Richard Phillips “Mirror”
I don't know if it's January, the month of both new beginnings and the first anniversary of my mother's death, or if it's age, or the cold, or plain old envy or what, but Ms. Ego has been marching up and down my cerebral cortex with her recriminations.
She is feeling miffed, peeved, and depressed because she has been looking back at my life and seeing all the places where I made the wrong choice, where I failed to live up to potential, where I didn't achieve what she thinks I should have achieved.
"You aren't rich or famous," she chides. "And you could have, should have been. Now it's too late and you've wasted your entire life. What a miserable loser you are. How did I ever get to be your ego? I deserved a much better person."
"You're right," I agree. "I have messed up a great deal of my life. But what's the point of looking back at the mistakes? How can I change what is already past?"
My ego just harrumphs and goes searching through the memory banks to find another example of a place where I have failed or an idea that came to naught, to point out a friend or colleague who has "made it" while I haven't or to simply pout a bit about "lack of discipline and a ruined life."
I try to placate her with some of the good things in my life, like a wonderful son, good friends, answered prayer, but Ego doesn't care about them. All she cares about is fame and fortune. "Alas," she wails, "how could you have wasted your one precious life?" (Ego likes to misquote Mary Oliver, while simultaneously pointing out that I haven't won the Pulitzer Prize for anything I've written.)
I'm not quite sure what to do about Ms. Ego. I have to agree with a lot she says, but agreeing doesn't change the past. That's when, if I listen carefully, I can hear the tiniest little voice quoting yet another poet:
Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me...Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." (Shel Silverstein.)