I’m getting ready to move from Seattle to Minneapolis, and hence this weekend was been about organizing and packing and discovering things in random places that I had I forgotten I owned (like some Puss ‘n Boots temporary tattoos), and then trying to decide if I should throw these things away, or take them to a new location where I will most likely forget again that they exist. (And am I really going to use the Puss ‘n Boots temporary tattoos one day?)
During one such bout of organization, I came across several old notebooks filled with thoughts I had scribbled down and promptly forgotten about. Reading these sorts of things is always fascinating. It’s my handwriting, so I must have written it, and yet I find myself thinking, “did I really write this?” It almost seems like it came from someone else, and I start to ponder the mysteries of my own identity.
Anyway, in one notebook I had written a bunch of Tom Swifties using my own name:
“My antiperspirant really works,” Eva said drily.
“Would you like me to press that shirt?” Eva asked ironically.
“Did you eat that entire block of cheddar cheese?” Eva asked sharply.
“Let’s get some ground beef and make burgers,” Eva chuckled.
I’ll spare you the rest of them, but let’s just say, I probably have enough for a coffee table book of Eva Swifties.
* * *
Speaking of useless books, were you aware that Kim Kardashian is publishing a book comprised entirely of selfies? Unfortunately it’s true. Art book publisher Rizzoli will publish Selfish, a sleek book of 352 photos Kim took of herself and/or her own butt.
Sort of makes you depressed about the current state of book publishing, doesn’t it? Sort of makes you wonder if people’s egos should be allowed to get so inflated.
Speaking of egos, recently my finance’ and I were reading about the ego in Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions. Hinduism says there are four paths to actualizing human potential, but all of them involve a distancing of the self from the ego. Because, Hinduism says, this body of ours (even one with a fabulous, famous butt) will one day be gone, and this mind of ours (even one that writes clever Tom Swifties) will one day be gone, and the only way to find enlightenment is to move beyond the confines of our own, small selves and embrace what is large and eternal– call it God if you want.
Hinduism gives several practical approaches for how to practice distancing oneself from the ego. One exercise that Paul and I especially liked was to start thinking of yourself in the third person, not only during meditation but during daily life.
Instead of “I am walking down the street,” she thinks, “There goes Sybil walking down Fifth Avenue,” and tries to reinforce the assertion by visualizing herself from a distance.”… Thinking of oneself in the third person does two things simultaneously. It drives a wedge between one’s self-identification and one’s surface self, and at the same time forces this self-identification to deeper level until, at last, through a knowledge identical with being, one becomes in full what one always was at heart. – From The World’s Religions
Pretty cool, huh?
Also a lot easier said than done.
Still, Paul and I have been talking about how we should try to sometimes think of ourselves in the third person. And then I had an idea: I should write about myself in the third person!
I’m not doing it now, obviously, but I think this could be a fun and informative writing exercise…
SPIRITUAL WRITING EXERCISE (Inspired by Hinduism; Created by Eva):
Imagine yourself from a distance and describe what you look like, how you move, the things you do. Listen carefully to what you say to others, and examine the thoughts that move through your mind. Write about yourself as if you are a character, not yourself.
I suppose writing a story about oneself could be seen as egotistical, but I think it could be a good exercise, both in writing and in spiritual life.
Sometimes I find that writing in itself is a way for me to distance myself from myself (if that makes sense) and explore what is larger and more eternal. Sometimes, when I read old stories I have written, I am surprised to think that they were written by me at all.
I wonder if, years from now, when Kim Kardashian is packing up to move to the nursing home, and she finds her Selfish book in an old box of things she’d forgotten existed, she will be surprised that she is that sexy girl in those photos. She will be distanced at last from that part of herself. By this time, her body will be old and failing, her famous ass sagging, and she will realize that she is not her body, or even her mind, but something else that lasts forever, even longer than a coffee table book of her own face.
“I need inspiration for my writing,” Eva mused.