I have a huge collection of shells that I’ve amassed over fifty years. But I’ve pretty much stopped collecting because I have no more room to put them! It’s time to enjoy what I have. And to wonder what they’ve represented to me all these years.
Ego. Such a fundamental part of the human condition, and yet it’s the very thing that makes me human and separates me from God. It’s ego that keeps me struggling in my relationships, ego that keeps me from accepting things as they are and feeling content with what I have. It’s ego and my willfulness beneath it that traps me in my restless search to outdo myself and others.
And it’s ego that makes me want to leave an imprint in the sand.
All human beings wrestle with ego, but substance users have found a solution that elevates us from our soul sickness: losing ourselves in substances and behaviors that provide oblivion for a time. “We want what we want when we want it.” That tired old phrase smacking of egocentricity and childishness.
Substance users in their disease are all about themselves. In Alcoholics Anonymous, one definition of an alcoholic is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex..
To be “relieved of the bondage of self,” as the Third Step Prayer states in the Big Book, I’m learning how to nurture a relationship with God and remember my place in relation to Him. My importance is next to nothing in the scheme of things. This keeps me right-sized and humble. I’m just another grain of sand on the beach.
Learning to live beyond ego has been one of my biggest challenges. And, like all my work in the school of recovery, there is no graduation.
I line up all my conches and other shells, like students in a classroom, mindful of what they are teaching me.