In case anyone missed mention of it in all my writing the fact is Ihave not owned a television since 1989. When I lived in Pennsylvania I was very busy studying for the CPA exam, in Connecticut with helping my parents fix up their house and getting ready to retire to Florida. When they left I moved to Annapolis Maryland where there was sailing, used book shops, and coffee shops galore where I played chess and had great conversations with everyone from retired Naval captains to St John’s College students to visiting sailors from as far away as Sweden and New Zealand.. Once I came to Virginia I was too busy with work and commute days that stretched twelve hours or more. Now I am in a town with no book shops and only one coffee shop. I am not commuting. So reading now takes the place of television. A few months ago I encountered something written by Ryan Holiday and decided to sign up for his monthly post in which he discusses the books he’s reading. I thought I might get some good suggestions and I have. Ryan has also written books and mentioned the release date of his latest. Since I have gotten a lot out of his book list discussions and not paid a cent I bought his new book “Ego is the Enemy”. and just finished reading it a week ago.
I found it the perfect antidote to an election season which I for the most part ignore. Lots of people are politically committed, many of whom I admire, and I don’t try to change them but I have lived long enough to know real change comes from within. Thou shalt not kill has been on the books for millenia but people are killing each other by the thousands. Discrimation is against the law but hateful and irrational prejudices abound and sadly, the election rhetoric is full of it. I have always felt that people who go into politics do so from ego rather than a desire to do good. This is my personal bias. I realize there are exceptions to every rule. I have found those exceptions usually happen on a more local level and do not incolve “career” politicians, although, again there are exceptions.
While Ryan’s book has very little in it abut anything political it rather confirmed my bias. People are always happier when their biases are confirmed since it means avoiding the difficult task of changing and I am only human. My mental response was “Aha! Thought so!” But in my mindfulness and meditation training I am learning to examine my thoughts dispassionately and realized almost immediately that response came from ego. Oh dear! It may in fact be the case most politicians were attracted to politics because of enormous ego but my concern is with the emotional nature of my own reaction. That “gotcha” emotional feeling when we think we are proved right. especially against a person, group or idea we dislike or disagree with is the pitfall. It is telling us we are more focused on being “right” than looking at the issue with the calm logic that will let us reach acceptance or a resolution.
Ryan’s book is small. In the hardback I got it measures about 6 by 8 cm. Iincluding the prologue and inroduction it is 233 pages. I enjoyed it for both it’s style and content and it was a quick read. He supports his thesis with a lot of real life examples, including that of his own triumphs and disasters. It’s the kind of book I will come back to again. My view of life is very conditioned by my time living in Asia and studying Asian things. The eastern religions, philospophies and practices spend a lot of time and energy on breaking down the ego. It is the work of a lifetime but people in the west are often not receptive. Ego does not want to be relinquished. Individualism and self sufficiency are prized most highly and help the ego stay in control. Ryan’s book addresses the pitfalls of ego in the driver’s seat in a way westerners can immediately relate to. While his
There is a question trading mentors ask their clients, “Do you want to be right or do you want to make money?” You can’t control the markets. If your trade idea starts to fall apart you can let ego rule and cling to your bias your choice was right until your money is gone or admit something happened to spoil your plan and get out right away, saving your capital for a better trade. That question can be reworded to fit a wide range of situations and to test whether ego is driving your thoughts and actions.
Today there will be no farmer’s marof situationsket. The downtown is being taken over for a soapbox derby. I will be avoiding the congestion to visit some stores in a neighboring town that are having a fair trade day. I try to support such efforts. While I am gone the cats will probably all sleep. It would be nice if someone would catch the loud fly that got in the other day, but cat’s do sleep a lot. Simba used to like to sleep in the carrier but hasn’t since Tony chose to go into it to die. I cleaned it with bleach and changed the blanket and Skye has napped in it, but not Simba. I hope someday she will feel comfortable in her favorite safe place again. that was the carrier she liked. In the meantime there are plenty of good napping spots, the house is organized more for the cats than for me. I don’t mind, their contentment is important to me.
I should add that the robin came back after a brief disappearance which initially saddened me. Now she is on the nest almost constantly and my mail is still on hold for pickup. I think the weather stayed cool too long and she postponed laying. Smart girl. The cats in the front window have not put her off for which I am glad.